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THE BOROUGH 
TREASURER 



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THE BOROUGH 
TREASURER 



BY 

J. S. FLETCHER 

AUTHOR OF 
THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER, 
THE PARADISE MYSTERY, Etc. 




GROSSET & DUNLAP 

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK 

Made in the United States of Amenea 



COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY 
ALFRED A. KNOPF, INO. 

Published July, 1921 
Seeond Printing, November, 1921 



nt THB vvthmd stat»b o» ambbioa 



CONTENTS 

I Blackmail, 1 

II Crime — and Success, 11 

III Murder, 21 

IV xft: Pine Wood, 31 
V The Coed, 41 

VI The Mayor, 52 

VII Night Work, 61 

VIII Retained for the Defence, 71 

IX Antecedents, 82 

X The Hole in the Thatch, 91 

XI Christopher Pett, 101 

XII Parental Anxiety, 111 

XIII The Anonymous Letter, 121 

XIV The Sheet of Figures, 131 

XV One Thing Leads to Another, 141 

XVI The Lonely Moor, 149 

XVII The Medical Opinion, 159 

XVIII The Scrap Book, 171 

XIX A Tall Man in Grey Clothes, 181 

XX At Bay, 191 

I 



CONTENTS 

XXI The Interrupted Flight, 203 

XXII The Hand in the Darkness, 211 

XXIII Comfortable Captivity, 221 

XXIV Strict Business Lines, 231 
XXV No Further Evidence, 242 

XXVI The Virtues of Suspicion, 251 

XXVII Mr. Wraythwaite of Wraye, 260 

XXVIII Pages from the Past, 269 

XXIX Without Thought op Consequences, 277 

XXX COTHERSTOWE, 283 

XXXI The Barrister's Fee, 302 



THE BOROUGH 
TREASURER 



CHAPTER I 

BLACKMAIL 

Half way along the north side of the main street 
of Highmarket an ancient stone gateway, imposing 
enough to suggest that it was originally the entrance 
to some castellated mansion or manor house, gave 
access to a square yard, flanked about by equally 
ancient buildings. What those buildings had been 
used for in other days was not obvious to the casual 
and careless observer, but to the least observant their 
present usq was obvious enough. Here were piles of 
timber from Norway ; there were stacks of slate from 
Wales; here was marble from Aberdeen, and there 
cement from Portland: the old chambers of the grey 
buildings were filled to overflowing with aU the things 
that go towards making a house — ironwork, zinc, lead, 
tiles, great coils of piping, stores of domestic ap- 
pliances. And on a shining brass plate, set into the 
wall, just within the gateway, were deeply engraven 
the words: Mallalieu and Cotherstone, Builders and 
Contractors. 

Whoever had walked into Mallalieu & Cother- 
stone 's yard one October afternoon a few years ago 
would have seen Mallalieu and Cotherstone in person. 
The two partners had come out of their ofi&ce and 
gone down the yard to inspect half a dozen new carts, 
just finished, and now drawn up in all the glory of 
fresh paint. Mallalieu had designed those carts him- 

1 



2 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

self, and he was now pointing out their advantages 
to Cotherstone, who was more concerned with the 
book-keeping and letter-writing side of the business 
than with its actual work. He was a big, fleshy man, 
Mallalieu, midway between fifty and sixty, of a large, 
solemn, well-satisfied countenance, small, sly eyes, and 
an expression of steady watchfulness; his attire was 
always of the eminently respectable sort, his linen 
fresh and glossy; the thick gold chain across his 
ample front, and the silk hat which he invariably wore, 
gave him an unmistakable air of prosperity. He 
stood now, the silk hat cocked a little to one side, one 
hand hand under the tail of his broadcloth coat, a 
pudgy finger of the other pointing to some new fea- 
ture of the mechanism of the new carts, and he looked 
the personification of self-satisfaction and smug con- 
tent. 

"All done in one action, dV& see, Cotherstone?'* 
he was saying. "One pull at that pin releases the 
entire load. We'd really ought to have a patent for 
that idea." 

Cotherstone went nearer the cart which they were 
examining. He was a good deal of a contrast to his 
partner — a slightly built, wiry man, nervous and 
quick of movement; although he was Mallalieu 's jun- 
ior he looked older, and the thin hair at his temples 
was already whitening. Mallalieu suggested solidity 
and almost bovine sleekness; in Cotherstone, activity 
of speech and gesture was marked well-nigh to an ap- 
pearance of habitual anxiety. He stepped about the 
cart with the quick action of an inquisitive bird or 
animal examining something which it has never seen 
before. 



BLACKMAIL S 

"Yes, yes, yes!" he answered. *'*Yes, that's a 
good idea. But if it's to be patented, you know, 
we ought to see to it at once, before these carts go 
into use." 

"Why, there's nobody in Highmarket like to rob 
us," observed Mallalieu, good-humouredly. "You 
might consider about getting — ^what do they call itt 
— provisional protection? — for it." 

"I'll look it up," responded Cotherstone. "It*s 
worth that, anyhow." 

"Do," said Mallalieu. He pulled out the big gold 
watch which hung from the end of his cable chain 
and glanced at its jewelled dial. "Dear me!" he ex- 
claimed. "Four o'clock — I've a meeting in the 
Mayor's parlour at ten past. But I'll look in again 
before going home." 

He hurried away towards the entrance gate, and 
Cotherstone, after ruminative inspection of the new 
carts, glanced at some papers in his hand and went 
over to a consignment of goods which required check- 
ing. He was carefully ticking them off on a list when 
a clerk came down the yard. 

"Mr. Kitely called to pay his rent, sir," he an- 
nounced. "He asked to see you yourself." 

* * Twenty-five — six — seven, ' ' counted Cotherstone. 
"Take him into the private office, Stoner," he an- 
swered. "I'll be there in a minute." 

He continued his checking until it was finished^ 
entered the figures on his list, and went briskly back 
to the counting-house near the gateway. There he 
bustled into a room kept sacred to himself and Mal- 
lalieu, with a cheery greeting to his visitor — an elderly 



4 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

man who had recently rented from him a small house 
on the outskirts of the town. 

"Afternoon, Mr. Kitely," he said. "Glad to see 
you, sir — always glad to see anybody with a bit of 
money, eh? Take a chair, sir — I hope you're satisfied 
with the little place, Mr. Kitely?" 

The visitor took the offered elbow-chair, folded his 
hands on the top of his old-fashioned walking-cane, 
and glanced at his landlord with a half-humorous, 
half-quizzical expression. He was an elderly, clean- 
shaven, grey-haired man, spare of figure, dressed in 
rusty black; a wisp of white neckcloth at his throat 
gave him something of a clerical appearance: Coth- 
erstone, who knew next to nothing about him, except 
that he was able to pay his rent and taxes, had al- 
ready set him down as a retired verger of some 
cathedral. 

"I should think you and Mr. Mallalieu are in no 
need of a bit of money, Mr. Cotherstone," he said 
quietly. "Business seems to be good with you, sir.'* 

"Oh, so-so," replied Cotherstone, off-handedly. 
"Naught to complain of, of course. I'll give you a 
receipt, Mr. Kitely," he went on, seating himself at 
his desk and taking up a book of forms. "Let's see 
— twenty-five pounds a year is six pound five a 
quarter — there you are, sir. Will you have a drop 
of whisky?" 

Kitely laid a handful of gold and silver on the 
desk, took the receipt, and nodded his head, still 
watching Cotherstone with the same half-humorous 
expression. 

• * Thank you, ' ' he said. ' * I shouldn 't mind. ' ' 



BLACKMAIL 5 

He watched Cotherstone produce a decanter and 
glasses, watched him fetch fresh water from a filter 
in the comer of the room, watched him mix the 
drinks, and took his own with no more than a polite 
nod of thanks. And Cotherstone, murmuring an ex- 
pression of good wishes, took a drink himself, and 
sat down with his desk-chair turned towards his 
visitor. 

"Aught you'd like doing at the house, Mr. 
Kitely?" he asked. 

"No," answered Kitely, "no, I can't say that there 
is." 

There was something odd, almost taciturn, in his 
manner, and Cotherstone glanced at him a little won- 
deringly. 

"And how do you like Highmarket, now you've 
had a spell of it?" he inquired. "Got settled down, 
I suppose, now?" 

"It's all that I expected," replied Kitely. "Quiet 
— ^peaceful. How do you like it?" 

"Me!" exclaimed Cotherstone, surprised. "Me? — 
why, I've had — ^yes, five-and-twenty years of it!" 

Kitely took another sip from his glass and set it 
down. He gave Cotherstone a sharp look. 

"Yes," he said, "yes — ^five-and-twenty years. 
You and your partner, both. Yes — it'll be just 
about thirty years since I first saw you. But — you've 
forgotten. ' ' 

Cotherstone, who had been lounging forward, warm- 
ing his hands at the fire, suddenly sat straight up in 
his chair. His face, always sharp seemed to grow 



6 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

sharper as he turned to his visitor with a questioning 
look. 

"Since — what?" he demanded. 

"Since I first saw you — and Mr, Mallalieu," re- 
plied Kitely. "As I say, you've forgotten. But — 
I haven't." 

Cotherstone sat staring at his tenant for a full 
minute of speechlessness. Then he slowly rose, 
walked over to the door, looked at it to see that it 
was closed, and returning to the hearth, fixed his eyes 
on Kjtely. 

"What do you mean?" he asked. 

"Just what I say," answered Kitely, with a dry 
laugh. "It's thirty years since I first saw you and 
Mallalieu. That's all." 

"Where?" demanded Cotherstone. 

Kitely motioned his landlord to sit down. And 
Cotherstone sat down — trembling. His arm shook 
when Kitely laid a hand on it. 

"Do you want to know where?" he asked, bend- 
ing close to Cotherstone. "I'll tell you. In the 
dock — at Wilchester Assizes. Eh?" 

Cotherstone made no answer. He had put the tips 
of his fingers together, and now he was tapping the 
nails of one hand against the nails of the other. And 
he stared and stared at the face so close to his own — 
as if it had been the face of a man resurrected from 
the grave. Within him there was a feeling of ex- 
traordinary physical sickness ; it was quickly followed 
by one of inertia, just as extraordinary. He felt as 
is he had been mesmerized ; as if he could neither move 
nor speak. And Kitely sat there, a hand on his vie- 



BLACKMAIL 7 

tim's arm, his face sinister and purposeful, close to 
his. 

**Fact!" he murmured. "Absolute fact! I re- 
member everything. It's come on me bit by bit, 
though. I thought I knew you when I first came 
here — then I had a feeling that I knew Mallalieu. 
And — in time — I remembered — everything! Of 
course, when I saw you both — where I did see you 
— ^you weren't Mallalieu & Cotherstone. You 
were " 

Cotherstone suddenly made an effort, and shook 
off the thin fingers which lay on his sleeve. His pale 
face grew crimson, and the veins swelled on his fore- 
head. 

"Confound you!" he said in a low, concentrated 
voice. "Who are you?" 

Kitely shook his head and smiled quietly. 

"No need to grow warm," he answered. "Of 
course, it's excusable in you. Who am I? Well, if 
you really want to know, I've been employed in the 
police line for thirty-five years — until lately." 

"A detective!" exclaimed Cotherstone. 

"Not when I was present at Wilchester — that 
time," replied Kitely. "But afterwards — in due 
course. Ah ! — do you know, I often was curious as 
to what became of you both! But I never dreamed 
of meeting you — here. Of course, you came up 
North after you'd done your time? Changed your 
names, started a new life — and here you are! 
Clever!" 

Cotherstone was recovering his wits. He had got 
out of his chair by that time, and had taken up a 



8 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

position on the hearthrug, his back to the fire, his 
hands in his pockets, his eyes on his visitor. He was 
thinking — and for the moment he let Kitely talk. 

"Yes — clever!" continued Kitely in the same level, 
subdued tones, "very clever indeed ! I suppose you 'd 
carefully planted some of that money you — got hold 
of? Must have done, of course — you'd want money 
to start this business. Well, you've done all this on 
the straight, anyhow. And you've done well, too. 
Odd, isn't it, that I should come to live down here, 
right away in the far North of England, and find you 
in such good circumstances, too! Mr. Mallalieu, 
Mayor of Highmarket — his second term of ofiSce! 
Mr. Cotherstone, Borough Treasurer of Highmarket — 
now in his sixth year of that important post ! I say 
again — you've both done uncommonly well — un- 
commonly!'* 

"Have you got any more to say?" asked Cother- 
stone. 

But Kitely evidently intended to say what he had 
to say in his own fashion. He took no notice of Coth- 
erstone 's question, and presently, as if he were amus- 
ing himself with reminiscences of a long dead past, 
he spoke again, quietly and slowly. 

"Yes," he murmured, "uncommonly well! And 
of course you'd have capital. Put safely away, of 
course, while you were doing your time. Let's see 
—it was a Building Society that you defrauded, 
wasn't it? Mallalieu was treasurer, and you were 
secretary. Yes — ^I remember now. The amount was 
two thous " 

Cotherstone made a sudden exclamation and a sharp 



BLACKMAIL 9 

movement — both cheeked by an equally sudden 
change of attitude and expression on the part of the 
ex-detective. For Kitely sat straight up and looked 
the junior partner squarely in the face. 

** Better not, Mr. Cotherstone ! " he said, with a 
grin that showed his yellow teeth. **You can't very 
well choke the life out of me in your own office, can 
you? You couldn't hide my old carcase as easily 
as you and Mallalieu hid those Building Society funds, 
you know. So — be calm! I'm a reasonable man — 
and getting an old man." 

He accompanied the last words with a meaning 
smile, and Cotherstone took a turn or two about the 
room, trying to steady himself. And Kitely pres- 
ently went on again, in the same monotonous tones : 

"Think it all out — ^by all means," he said. **X 
don't suppose there's a soul in all England but my- 
self knows your secret — and Mallalieu 's. It was sheer 
accident, of course, that I ever discovered it. But — 
I know! Just consider what I do know. Consider, 
too, what you stand to lose. There's Mallalieu, so 
much respected that he's Mayor of this ancient bor- 
ough for the second time. There's you — so much 
trusted that you've been Borough Treasurer for years. 
You can't afford to let me tell the Highmarket folk 
that you two are ex-convicts! Besides, in your case 
there's another thing — there's your daughter." 

Cotherstone groaned — a deep, unmistakable groan 
of sheer torture. But Kitely went on remorselessly. 

"Your daughter's just about to marry the most 
promising young man in the place," he said. "A 
young fellow with a career before him. Do you think 



10 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

he'd marry her if he knew that her father — even if 
it is thirty years ago — ^had been convicted of " 

"Look you here!" interrupted Cotherstone, 
through set teeth. **IVe had enough! I've asked 
you once before if you'd any more to say — now I'll 
put it in another fashion. For I see what you're 
after — and it 's blackmail ! How much do you want ? 
Come on — give it a name!" 

"Name nothing, till you've told Mallalieu," an- 
swered Kitely. "There's no hurry. You two can't, 
and I shan't, run away. Time enough — I've the whip 
hand. Tell your partner, the Mayor, all I've told 
you — ^then you can put your heads together, and see 
what you're inclined to do. An annuity, now? — 
that would suit me." 

"You haven't mentioned this to a soul?" asked 
Cotherstone anxiously. 

" Bah ! " sneered Kitely. " D 'ye think I 'm a fool ? 
Not likely. Well — now you know. I'll come in here 
again tomorrow afternoon. And — ^you'll both be 
here, and ready with a proposal." 

He picked up his glass, leisurely drank off its 
remaining contents, and without a word of farewell 
opened the door and went quietly away. 



CHAPTE3S n ^ 

CRIME— AND SUCCESS 

For some moments after Kitely had left him, Coth- 
erstone stood vacantly staring at the chair in which 
the blackmailer had sat. As yet he could not realize 
things. He was only filled with a queer, vague 
amazement about Kitely himself. He began to look 
back on his relations with Kitely. They were recent 
— very recent, only of yesterday, as you might say. 
Kitely had come to him, one day about three monthg 
previously, told him that he had come to these parts 
for a bit of a holiday, taken a fancy to a cottage 
which he, Cotherstone, had to let, and inquired its 
rent. He had mentioned, casually, that he had just 
retired from business, and wanted a quiet place 
wherein to spend the rest of his days. He had taken 
the cottage, and given his landlord satisfactory ref- 
erences as to his ability to pay the rent — and Cother- 
stone, always a busy man, had thought no more about 
him. Certainly he had never anticipated such an an- 
nouncement as that which Kitely had just made to 
him — never dreamed that Kitely had recognized him 
and Mallalieu as men he had known thirty years ago. 

It had been Cotherstone 's life-long endeavour to for- 
get all about the event of thirty years ago, and to 

11 



12 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

a lai^e extent he had succeeded in dulling his mem- 
ory. But Ejtely had brought it all back — and now 
everything was fresh to him. His brows knitted and 
his face grew dark as he thought of one thing in his 
past of which Kitely had spoken so easily and glibly 
— ^the dock. He saw himself in that dock again — and 
Mallalieu standing by him. They were not called 
Mallalieu and Cotherstone then, of course. He re- 
membered what their real names were — ^he remem- 
bered, too, that, until a few minutes before, he had 
certainly not repeated them, even to himself, for 
many a long year. Oh, yes — he remembered every- 
thing — he saw it all again. The case had excited 
plenty of attention in Wilchester at the time — ^Wil- 
chester, that for thirty years had been so far away in 
thought and in actual distance that it might have 
been some place in the Antipodes. It was not a nice 
case — even now, looking back upon it from his pres- 
ent standpoint, it made him blush to think of. Two 
better-class young working-men, charged with em- 
bezzling the funds of a building society to which 
Ihey had acted as treasurer and secretary! — a bad 
case. The Court had thought it a bad case, and 
the culprits had been sentenced to two years' impris- 
onment. And now Cotherstone only remembered 
that imprisonment as one remembers a particularly 
bad dream. Yes — it had been real. 

His eyes, moody and brooding, suddenly shifted 
their gaze from the easy chair to his own hands — they 
were shaking. Mechanically he took up the whisky 
decanter from his desk, and poured some of its con- 
tents into his glass — ^the rim of the glass tinkled 



CRIME— AND SUCCESS IS 

against the neck of the decanter. Yes — that had been 
a shock, right enough, he muttered to himself, and 
not all the whisky in the world would drive it out of 
him. But a drink — neat and stiff — would pull his 
nerves up to pitch, and so he drank, once, twice, and 
sat down with the glass in his hand — to think still 
more. 

That old Kitely was shrewd — shrewd! He had at 
once hit on a fact which those Wilehester folk of 
thirty years ago had never suspected. It had been 
said at the time that the two offenders had lost the 
building society's money in gambling and speculation, 
and there had been grounds for such a belief. But 
that was not so. Most of the money had been skil- 
fully and carefully put where the two conspirators 
could lay hands on it as soon as it was wanted, and 
when the term of imprisonment was over they had 
nothing to do but take possession of it for their own 
purposes. They had engineered everything verj 
well — Cotherstone 's essentially constructive mind, re- 
garding their doings from the vantage ground of 
thirty years' difference, acknowledged that they had 
been cute, crafty, and cautious to an admirable de- 
gree of perfection. Quietly and unobtrusively they 
had completely disappeared from their own district 
in the extreme South of England, when their pun- 
ishment was over. They had let it get abroad that 
they were going to another continent, to retrieve the 
past and start a new life ; it was even known that they 
repaired to Liverpool, to take ship for America. But 
in Liverpool they had shuffled off everything of the 
past — ^names, relations, antecedents. There was no 



li THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

reason why any one should watch them out of the 
country, but they had adopted precautions against 
such watching. They separated, disappeared, met 
again in the far North, in a sparsely-populated, lonely 
country of hill and dale, led there by an advertise- 
ment which they had seen in a local newspaper, met 
with by sheer chance in a Liverpool hotel. There was 
an old-established business to sell as a going concern, 
in the dale town of Highmarket: the two ex-convicts 
bought it. From that time they were Anthony Mal- 
lalieu and Milford Cotherstone, and the past was 
dead. 

During the thirty years in which that past had 
been dead, Cotherstone had often heard men remark 
that this world of ours is a very small one, and he had 
secretly laughed at them. To him and to his partner 
the world had been wide and big enough. They were 
now four hundred miles away from the scene of their 
crime. There was nothing whatever to bring Wil- 
chester people into that northern country, nothing to 
take Highmarket folk anywhere near Wilchester 
Neither he nor Mallalieu ever went far afield — Lon- 
don they avoided with particular care, lest they should 
meet any one there who had known them in the old 
days. They had stopped at home, and minded their 
business, year in and year out. Naturally, they had 
prospered. They had speedily become known as hard- 
working young men; then as good employers of la- 
bour; finally as men of considerable standing in a 
town of which there were only some five thousand 
inhabitants. They had been invited to join in public 
matters — ^Mallalieu had gone into the Town Council 



CRIME— AND SUCCESS 15 

first ; Cotherstone had followed him later. They had 
been as successful in administering the affairs of the 
little town as in conducting their own, and in time 
both had attained high honours: Mallalieu was now 
wearing the mayoral chain for the second time ; Coth- 
erstone, as Borough Treasurer, had governed the 
financial matters of Highmarket for several years. 
And as he sat there, staring at the red embers of the 
office fire, he remembered that there were no two 
men in the whole town who were more trusted and re- 
spected than he and his partner — his partner in 
success . . . and in crime. 

But that was not all. Both men had married 
within a few years of their coming to Highmarket. 
They had married young women of good standing 
in the neighbourhood; it was perhaps well, reflected 
Cotherstone, that their wives were dead, and that 
Mallalieu had never been blessed with children. But 
Cotherstone had a daughter, of whom he was as fond 
as he was proud ; for her he had toiled and contrived, 
always intending her to be a rich woman. He had 
seen to it that she was well educated; he had even 
allowed himself to be deprived of her company for 
two years while she >vent to an expensive school, far 
away; since she had grown up, he had surrounded 
her with every comfort. And now, as Kitely had re- 
minded him, she was engaged to be married to the 
most promising young man in Highmarket, Windle 
Bent, a rich manufacturer, who had succeeded to 
and greatly developed a fine business, who had already 
made his mark on the Town Council, and was known 
to cherish Parliamentary ambitions. Everybody 



16 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

knew that Bent had a big career before him; he had 
all the necessary gifts ; all the proper stuff in him for 
such a career. He would succeed ; he would probably 
win a title for himself — a baronetcy, perhaps a peer- 
age. This was just the marriage which Cotherstone 
desired for Lettie; he would die more than happy if 
he could once hear her called Your Ladyship. And 
now here was — this! 

Cotherstone sat there a long time, thinking, reflect- 
ing, reckoning up things. The dusk had come; the 
darkness followed ; he made no movement towards the 
gas bracket. Nothing mattered but his trouble. 
That must be dealt with. At all costs, Kitely's si- 
lence must be purchased — aye, even if it cost him and 
Mallalieu one-half of what they had. And, of course, 
Mallalieu must be told — at once. 

A tap of somebody's knuckles on the door of the 
pivate room roused him at last, and he sprang up and 
seized a box of matches as he bade the person without 
to enter. The clerk came in, carrying a sheaf of 
papers, and Cotherstone bustled to the gas. 

"Dear me!" he exclaimed. ''I've dropped off 
into a nod over this warm fire, Stoner. Wliat's that 
—letters?" 

"There's all these letters to sign, Mr. Cotherstone, 
and these three contracts to go through," answered 
the clerk. "And there are those specifications to ex- 
amine, as well." 

"Mr. Mallalieu 11 have to see those," said Cother- 
stone. He lighted the gas above his desk, put the 
decanter and the glasses aside, and took the letters. 
"I'll sign these, anyhow," he said, "and then you 



CRIME— AND SUCCESS 17 

can post 'em as you go home. The other papers '11 
do tomorrow morning." 

The clerk stood slightly behind his master as Coth- 
erstone signed one letter after the other, glancing 
quickly through each. He was a young man of 
twenty-two or three, with quick, observant manners, 
a keen eye, and a not handsome face, and as he stood 
there the face was bent on Cotherstone with a surmis- 
ing look. Stoner had noticed his employer's thought- 
ful attitude, the gloom in which Cotherstone sat, the 
decanter on the table, the glass in Cotherstone 's hand, 
and he knew that Cotherstone was telling a fib when 
he said he had been asleep. He noticed, too, the six 
sovereigns and the two or three silver coins lying on 
the desk, and he wondered what had made his master 
so abstracted that he had forgotten to pocket them. 
For he knew Cotherstone well, and Cotherstone was 
so particular about money that he never allowed even 
a penny to lie out of place. 

* ' There ! ' ' said Cotherstone, handing back the batch 
of letters. "You'll be going now, I suppose. Put 
those in the post. I'm not going just yet, so I'll 
lock up the office. Leave the outer door open — Mr. 
Mallalieu's coming back." 

He pulled down the blinds of the private room 
when Stoner had gone, and that done he fell to walk- 
ing up and own, awaiting his partner. And pres- 
ently Mallalieu came, smoking a cigar, and evidently 
in as good humour as usual. 

**0h, you're still here?" he said as he entered. 
^' I— what's up?" 

He had come to a sudden halt close to his partner, 



18 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

and lie now stood staring at him. And Cotherstone, 
glancing past Mallalieu's broad shoulder at a mirror, 
saw that he himself had become startlingly pale and 
haggard. He looked twenty years older than he had 
looked when he shaved himself that morning. 

"Aren't you well?" demanded Mallalieu. ''What 
is it?" 

Cotherstone made no answer. He walked past Mal- 
lalieu and looked into the outer office. The clerk had 
gone, and the place was only half-lighted. But Coth- 
erstone closed the door with great care, and when he 
went back to Mallalieu he sank his voice to a whisper. 

"Bad news!" he said. "Bad — ^bad news!" 

"What about?" asked Mallalieu. "Private? 
Business ? ' ' 

Cotherstone put his lips almost close to Mallalieu's 
ear. 

"That man Kitely — ^my new tenant," he whispered- 
"He's met us — ^you and me — before!" 

Mallalieu's rosy cheeks paled, and he turned 
sharply on his companion. 

"Met — us!" he exclaimed. "Him I Where? — 
when?" 

Cotherstone got his lips still closer. 

"Wilchester!" he answered. "Thirty years ago. 
He — ^knows!" 

Mallalieu dropped into the nearest chair: dropped 
as if he had been shot. His face, full of colour from 
the keen air outside, became as pale as his partner's; 
his jaw fell, his mouth opened; a strained look came 
into hia small eyes. 



CRIME— AND SUCCESS 19 

"Gad!" he muttered hoarsely. "You — ^you don't 
Bay so!" 

"It's a fact," answered Cotherstone. "He knows 
everything. He's an ex-detective. He was there — 
that day." 

' ' Tracked us down ? ' ' asked Mallalieu. ' ' That it ? " 

* * No, ' ' said Cotherstone. ' ' Sheer chance — pure ac- 
cident. Recognized us — after he came here. Aye — 
after all these years! Thirty years!" 

Mallalieu 's eyes, roving about the room, fell on 
the decanter. He pulled himself out of his chair, 
found a clean glass, and took a stiff drink. And 
his partner, watching him, saw that his hands, too, 
were shaking. 

"That's a facer!" said Mallalieu. His voice had 
grown stronger, and the colour came back to his 
cheeks. "A real facer! As you say — after thirty 
years! It's hard — it's blessed hard! And — ^what 
does he want? What's he going to do?" 

"Wants to blackmail us, of course," replied Coth- 
erstone, with a mirthless laugh. "What else should 
he do? What could he do? Why, he could tell 
all Highmarket who we are, and " 

"Aye, aye! — but the thing is here," interrupted 
Mallalieu. 

"Supposing we do square him? — ^is there any re- 
liance to be placed on him then? It 'ud only be the 
old game — ^he'd only want more." 

"He said an annuity," remarked Cotherstone, 
thoughtfully. "And he added significantly, that he 
was getting an old man." 



20 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

"How old?" demanded Mallalieu. 

"Between sixty and seventy," said Cotherstone. 
"I'm under the impression that he could be squared, 
could be satisfied. Hell have to be! We can't let 
it get out — I can't, any way. There's my daughter 
to think of." 

"D'ye think I'd let it get out?" asked Mallalieu. 
* * No ! — all I 'm thinking of is if we really can silence 
him. I've heard of cases where a man's paid black- 
mail for years and years, and been no better for it in 
the end." 

"Well — 'he's coming here tomorrow afternoon some 
time," said Cotherstone. "We'd better see him — 
together. After all, a hundred a year — -a couple of 
hundred a year — 'ud be better than — exposure." 

Mallalieu drank off his whisky and pushed the 
glass aside. 

"I'll consider it," he remarked. "What's certain 
sure is that he'll have to be quietened. I must go — 
I 've an appointment. Are you coming out ? ' ' 

"Not yet," replied Cotherstone. "I've all these 
papers to go through. Well, think it well over. 
He's a man to be feared." 

Mallalieu made no answer. He, like Kitely, went 
off without a word of farewell, and Cotherstone was 
once more left alone. 



CHAPTEE m 

MURDER 

When Mallalieu had gone, Cotherstone gathered up 
the papers which his clerk had brought in, and sitting 
down at his desk tried to give his attention to them. 
The effort was not altogether a success. He had 
hoped that the sharing of the bad news with his part- 
ner would bring some relief to him, but his anxieties 
were still there. He was always seeing that queer, 
sinister look in Kitely's knowing eyes: it suggested 
that as long as Kitely lived there would be no safety. 
Even if Kitely kept his word, kept any compact made 
with him, he would always have the two partners 
under his thumb. And for thirty years Cotherstone 
had been under no man's thumb, and the fear of 
having a master was hateful to him. He heartily 
wished that Kitely was dead — dead and buried, and 
his secret with him; he wished that it had been any- 
wise possible to have crushed the life out of him 
where he sat in that easy chair as soon as he had 
shown himself the reptile that he was. A man might 
kill any poisonous insect, any noxious reptile at pleas- 
ure — why not a human blood-sucker like that? 
. He sat there a long time, striving to give his at- 
tention to his papers, and making a poor show of 

21 



22 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

it. The figures danced about before him; he could 
make neither head nor tail of the technicalities in 
the specifications and estimates; every now and then 
fits of abstraction came over him, and he sat drum- 
ming the tips of his fingers on his blotting-pad, star- 
ing vacantly at the shadows in the far depths of 
the room, and always thinking — thinking of the ter- 
rible danger of revelation. And always, as an un- 
der-current, he was saying that for himself he cared 
naught — Kitely could do what he liked, or would have 
done what he liked, had there only been himself to 
think for. But — Lettie! All his life was now cen- 
tred in her, and in her happiness, and Lettie 's hap- 
piness, he knew, was centred in the man she was go- 
ing to marry. And Cotherstone, though he believed 
that he knew men pretty well, was not sure that he 
knew Windle Bent sufficiently to feel sure that he 
would endure a stiff test. Bent was ambitious — ^he 
was resolved on a career. Was he the sort of man 
to stand the knowledge which Kitely might give him T 
For there was always the risk that whatever he and 
Mallalieu might do, Kitely, while there was breath 
in him, might split. 

A sudden ringing at the bell of the telephone in 
the outer office made Cotherstone jump in his chair 
as if the arresting hand of justice had suddenly been 
laid on him. In spite of himself he rose trembling, 
and there were beads of perspiration on his forehead 
as he walked across the room. 

"Nerves!" he muttered to himself. "I must be 
in a queer way to be taken like that. It won't do ! — 



MURDER 2S 

especially at this turn. What is it?" he demanded, 
going to the telephone. ''Who is that?" 

His daughter's voice, surprised and admonitory, 
came to him along the wire. 

"Is that you, father?" she exclaimed. ''What are 
you doing? Don't you remember you asked Windle, 
and his friend Mr. Brereton, to supper at eight 
o'clock. It's a quarter to eight now. Do come home!" 

Cotherstone let out an exclamation which signified 
annoyance. The event of the late afternoon had com- 
pletely driven it out of his recollection that Windle 
Bent had an old school-friend, a young barrister from 
London, staying with him, and that both had been 
asked to supper that evening at Cotherstone 's house. 
But Cotherstone 's annoyance was not because of his 
own forgetfulness, but because his present abstraction 
made him dislike the notion of company. 

"I'd forgotten — for the moment," he called. 
"I've been very busy. All right, Lettie — I'm coming 
on at once. Shan't be long." 

But when he had left the telephone he made no 
haste. He lingered by his desk ; he was slow in turn- 
ing out the gas; slow in quitting and locking up his 
office ; he went slowly away through the town. Noth- 
ing could have been further from his wishes than 
a desire to entertain company that night — and es- 
pecially a stranger. His footsteps dragged as he 
passed through the market-place and turned into the 
outskirts beyond. 

Some years previously to this, when they had both 
married and made money, the two partners had built 



24» THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

new houses for themselves. Outside Highmarket, on 
its western boundary, rose a long, low hill called 
Highmarket Shawl; the slope which overhung the 
town was thickly covered with fir and pine, amidst 
which great masses of limestone crag jutted out here 
and there. At the foot of this hill, certain plots of 
building land had been sold, and Mallalieu had bought 
one and Cotherstone another, and on these they had 
erected two solid stone houses, fitted up with all the 
latest improvements known to the building trade. 
Each was proud of his house ; each delighted in wel- 
coming friends and acquaintances there — this was 
the first night Cotherstone could remember on which 
it was hateful to him to cross his own threshold. The 
lighted windows, the smell of good things cooked for 
supper, brought him no sense of satisfaction; he had 
to make a distinct effort to enter and to present a 
face of welcome to his two guests, who were already 
there, awaiting him. 

*' Couldn't get in earlier," he said, replying 
to Lettie's half -anxious, half-playful scoldings. 
*' There was some awkward business turned up this 
evening — and as it is, I shall have to run away for 
an hour after supper — can't be helped. How do you 
do, sir ? " he went on, giving his hand to the stranger. 
*'Glad to see you in these parts — ^you'll find this a 
\ jCold climate after London, I'm afraid." 
^\ He took a careful look at Bent 's friend as they all 
Bat down to supper — out of sheer habit of inspect- 
ing any man who was new to him. And after a 
glance or .two he said to himself that this young limb 
of the law was a sharp chap — a keen-eyed, alert, no- 



MURDER 25 

ticeable fellow, whose every action and tone denoted 
great mental activity. He was sharper than Bent, 
said Cotherstone, and in his opinion, that was saying 
a good deal. Bent's ability was on the surface; he 
was an excellent "specimen of the business man of 
action, who had ideas out of the common but was 
not so much given to deep and quiet thinking as to 
prompt doing of things quickly decided on. He 
glanced from one to the other, mentally comparing 
them. Bent was a tall, handsome man, blonde, blue- 
eyed, ready of word and laugh; Brereton, a medium- 
sized, compact fellow, dark of hair and eye, with an 
olive complexion that almost suggested foreign origin : 
the sort, decided Cotherstone, that thought a lot and 
said little. And forcing himself to talk he tried to 
draw the stranger out, watching him, too, to see if 
he admired Lettie. For Ijjj^as one of Cotherstone 'a 
greatest joys in life to IM^ folk to his house and 
watch the effect which his pretty daughter had on 
them, and he was rewarded now in seeing that the 
young man from London evidently applauded his 
friend's choice and paid polite tribute to Lettie 's 
charm. 

"And what might you have been doing with Mr. 
Brereton since he got down yesterday ? ' ' asked Coth- 
erstone. ** Showing him round, of course?" 

** I've been tormenting him chiefly with family his- 
tory," answered Bent, with a laughing glance at his 
sweetheart. "You didn't know I was raking up 
everything I could get hold of about my forbears, did 
you? Oh, I've been busy at that innocent amuse- 
ment for a month past — old Kitely put me up to it." 



26 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

Cotherstone could barely repress an inclination to 
start in his chair; he himself was not sure that he 
did not show undue surprise. 

"What!" he exclaimed. "Kitely My tenant? 
What does he know about your family? A 
stranger ! ' ' 

'*Muoh more than I do," replied Bent. "The old 
chap's nothing to do, you know, and since he took 
up his abode here he's been spending all his time 
digging up local records — he's a good bit of an an- 
tiquary, and that sort of thing. The Town Clerk 
tells me Kitely's been through nearly all the old town 
documents — chests full of them! And Kitely told 
me one day that if I liked he'd trace our pedigree 
back to I don't know when, and as he seemed keen, 
I told him to go ahead. He's found out a lot of in- 
teresting things in the borough records that I never 
heard of." ./w 

Cotherstone had kept his eyes on his plate while 
Bent was talking; he spoke now without looking up. 

"Oh?" he said, trying to speak unconcernedly. 
"Ah! — then you'll have been seeing a good deal of 
Kitely lately?" 

"Not so much," replied Bent. "He's brought me 
the result of his work now and then — things he's 
copied out of old registers, and so on." 

"And what good might it all amount to?" asked 
Cotherstone, more for the sake of talking than for 
any interest he felt. "Will it come to aught?" 

"Bent wants to trace his family history back to 
the Conquest, ' ' observed Brereton, slyly. * * He thinks 
the original Bent came over with the Conqueror. 



MURDER 27 

But his old man hasn't got beyond the Tudor period 
yet.'' 

''Never mind!" said Bent. ** There were Bents in 
Highmarket in Henry the Seventh's time, anyhow. 
And if one has a pedigree, why not have it properly 
searched out? He's a keen old hand at that sort of 
thing, Kitely. The Town Clerk says he can read 
some of our borough charters of six hundred years 
ago as if they were newspaper articles. ' ' 

Cotherstone made no remark on that. He was 
thinking. So Kitely was in close communication with 
Bent, was he ? — constantly seeing him, being employed 
by him? Well, that cut two ways. It showed that 
up to now he had taken no advantage of his secret 
knowledge and might therefore be considered as likely 
to play straight if he were squared by the two part- 
ners. But it also proved that Bent would probably 
believe anything that Kitely might tell him. Cer- 
tainly Kitely must be dealt with at once. He knew 
too much, and was obviously too clever, to be allowed 
to go about unfettered. Cost what it might, he must 
be attached to the Mallalieu-Cotherstone interest. 
And what Cotherstone was concentrating on just then, 
as he ate and drank, was — how to make that attach- 
ment in such a fashion that Kitely would have no 
option but to keep silence. If only he and Mallalieu 
could get a hold on Kitely, such as that which he had 
on them 

**Well," he said as supper came to an end, "I'm 
sorry, but I'm forced to leave you gentlemen for an 
hour, at any rate — can't be helped. Lettie, you must 
try to amuse 'em until I come back. Sing Mr. Brere- 



28 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

ton some of your new songs. Bent — ^you know where 
the whisky and the cigars are — ^help yourselves — 
make yourselves at home." 

''You won't be more than an hour, father?" asked 
Lettie. 

"An hour '11 finish what I've got to do," replied 
Cotherstone, "maybe less — I'll be as quick as I can, 
anyway, my lass." 

He hurried off without further ceremony; a mo- 
ment later and he had exchanged the warmth and 
brightness of his comfortable dining-room for the chill 
night and the darkness. And as he turned out of his 
garden he was thinking still further and harder. So 
"Windle Bent was one of those chaps who have what 
folk call family pride, was he? Actually proud of 
the fact that he had a pedigree, and could say who 
his grandfather and grandmother were? — things on 
which most people were as hazy as they were indiffer- 
ent. In that case, if he was really family-proud, all 
the more reason why Kitely should be made to keep his 
tongue still. For if Windle Bent was going on the 
game of making out that he was a man of family, he 
certainly would not relish the prospect of uniting his 
ancient blood with that of a man who had seen 
the inside of a prison. Kitely! — promptly and 
definitely — ^and for good! — ^that was the ticket. 

Cotherstone went off into the shadows of the night 
— and a good hour had passed when he returned to 
his house. It was then ten o'clock; he afterwards 
remembered that he glanced at the old grandfather 
clock in his hall when he let himself in. All was very 
quiet in there; he opened the drawing-room door to 



MURDER 29 

find the two young men and Lettie sitting over a 
bright fire, and Brereton evidently telling the other 
two some story, which he was just bringing to a con- 
clusion. 

'' . . . for it's a fact, in criminal practice," 
Brereton was saying, "that there are no end of un- 
discovered crimes — there are any amount of guilty 
men going about free as the air, and " 

"Hope you've been enjoying yourselves," said 
Cotherstone, going forward to the group. "I've been 
as quick as I could." 

"Mr. Brereton has been telling us most interesting 
stories about criminals," said Lettie. "Facts — much 
stranger than fiction!" 

"Then I'm sure it's time he'd something to re- 
fresh himself with," said Cotherstone hospitably. 
"Come away, gentlemen, and we'll see if we can't 
find a drop to drink and a cigar to smoke. ' ' 

He led the way to the dining-room and busied 
himself in bringing out some boxes of cigars from a 
cupboard while Lettie produced decanters and glasses 
from the sideboard. 

"So you're interested in criminal matters, sir?" 
observed Cotherstone as he offered Brereton a cigar. 
"Going in for that line, eh?" 

"What practice I've had has been in that line," 
answered Brereton, with a quiet laugh. "One sort of 
gets pitchforked into these things, you know, 
so " 

"What's that?" exclaimed Lettie, who was just 
then handing the young barrister a tumbler of whisky 
and soda which Bent had mixed for him. "Some- 



so THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

body running hurriedly up the drive — as if something 
had happened ! Surely you're not going to be fetched 
out again, father?" 

A loud ringing of the bell prefaced the entrance of 
some visitor, whose voice was heard in eager conver- 
sation with a parlourmaid in the hall. 

''That's your neighbour — ^Mr. Garth waite," said 
Bent. 

Cotherstone set down the cigars and opened the din- 
ing-room door, A youngish, fresh-coloured man, who 
looked upset and startled, came out of the hall, glanc- 
ing round him inquiringly. 

"Sorry to intrude, Mr. Cotherstone," he said. **I 
say! — ^that old gentleman you let the cottage to — 
Kitely, you know." 

"What of him?" demanded Cotherstone sharply. 

"He's lying there in the coppice above your house 
— I stumbled over him coming through there just 
now," replied Garth waite. "He — don't be fright- 
ened, Miss Cotherstone — ^he's — ^well, there's no doubt 
of it— he 's dead ! And ' ' 

* * And— what ? ' ' asked Cotherstone. * * What, man ? 
Out with it!" 

"And I should say, murdered!" said Garthwaite. 
"I — yes, I just saw enough to say that. Murdered 
— ^without a doubt!" 



CHAPTER nr 
THE PINE WOOD 

Brereton, standing back in the room, the cigar 
which Cotherstone had just given him unlighted in 
one hand, the glass which Lettie had presented to him 
in the other, was keenly watching the man who had 
just spoken and the man to whom he spoke. But all 
his attention was quickly concentrated on Cother- 
stone. For despite a strong effort to control himself, 
Cotherstone swayed a little, and instinctively put out 
a hand and clutched Bent's arm. He paled, too — the 
sudden spasm of pallor was almost instantly succeeded 
by a quick flush of colour. He made another effort — 
and tried to laugh. 

"Nonsense, man!" he said thickly and hoarsely. 
"Murder? Who should want to kill an old chap 
like that? It's — here, give me a drink, one of you 
— that's — a bit startling!" 

Bent seized a tumbler which he himself had just 
mixed, and Cotherstone gulped off half its contents. 
He looked round apologetically. 

"I — I think I'm not as strong as I was," he mut- 
tered. "Overwork, likely — I've been a bit shaky of 
late. A shock like that " 

"I'm sorry," said Garthwaite, who looked sur- 
31 



82 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

prised at the effect of his news. "I ought to have 
known better. But you see, yours is the nearest 
house " 

** Quite right, my lad, quite right," exclaimed 
Cotherstone. "You did the right thing. Here! — 
we 'd better go up. Have you called the police ? ' * 

"I sent the man from the cottage at the foot of 
your garden," answered Garthwaite. "He was just 
locking up as I passed, so I told him, and sent him 
off." 

"We'll go," said Cotherstone. He looked round 
at his guests. "You'll come?" he asked. 

"Don't you go, father," urged Lettie, "if you're 
not feeling well." 

"I'm all right," insisted Cotherstone. "A mere 
bit of weakness — that's all. Now that I know what's 
to be faced — " he twisted suddenly on Garthwaite — 
"what makes you think it's murder?" he demanded. 
"Murder! That's a big word." 

Garthwaite glanced at Lettie, who was whispering 
to Bent, and shook his head. 

* * Tell 3''0u when we get outside, ' ' he said. * * I don 't 
want to frighten your daughter." 

"Come on, then," said Cotherstone. He hurried 
into the hall and snatched up an overcoat. "Fetch 
me that lantern out of the kitchen," he called to the 
parlourmaid. "Light it! Don't you be afraid. Let- 
tie," he went on, turning to his daughter. "There's 
naught to be afraid of — ^now. You gentlemen com- 
ing with us?" 

Bent and Brereton had already got into their coats : 
when the maid came with the lantern, all four men 



THE PINE WOOD 33 

went out. And «s soon as they were in the garden 
Cotherstone turned on Garthwaite. 

"How do you know he's murdered?" he asked. 
''How could you tell?" 

"I'll tell you all about it, now we're outside," 
answered Garthwaite. "I'd been over to Spenni- 
garth, to see Hollings. I came back over the Shawl, 
and made a short cut through the wood. And I 
struck my foot against something — something soft, 
you know — I don 't like thinking of that ! And so I 
struck a match, and looked, and saw this old fellow 
— don't like thinking of that, either. He was laid 
there, a few yards out of the path that runs across 
the Shawl at that point. I saw he was dead — ^and 
as for his being murdered, well, all I can say is, he's 
been strangled ! That 's flat. ' ' 

"Strangled!" exclaimed Bent. 

"Aye, without doubt," replied Garthwaite. 
"There's a bit of rope round his neck that tight that 
I couldn't put my little finger between it and him! 
But you'll see for yourselves — it's not far up the 
Shawl. You never heard anything, Mr. Cother- 
stone ? 

"No, we heard naught," answered Cotherstone. 
"If it 's as you say, there 'd be naught to hear, ' ' 

He had led them out of his grounds by a side-gate, 
and they were now in the thick of the firs and pines 
which grew along the steep, somewhat rugged slope 
of the Shawl. He put the lantern into Garthwaite 's 
hand. 

"Here — you show the way," he said. "I don't 
know where it is, of course." 



34 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

"You were going straight to it," remarked Garth- 
waite. He turned to Brereton, who was walking at 
his side. "You're a lawyer, aren't you?" he asked. 
"I heard that Mr. Bent had a lawyer friend stopping 
with him just now — we hear all the bits of news in a 
little place like Highmarket. Well — you'll under- 
stand, likely — it hadn't been long done!" 

"You noticed that?" said Brereton. 

"I touched him," replied Garth waite. "His hand 
and cheek were — just warm. He couldn't have been 
dead so very long — as I judged matters. And — here 
he is!" 

He twisted sharply round the corner of one of the 
great masses of limestone which cropped out amongst 
the trees, and turned the light of the lantern on the 
dead man. 

"There!" he said in a hushed voice. "There!" 

The four men came to a halt, each gazing steadily 
at the sight they had come to see. It needed no 
more than a glance to assure each that he was looking 
on death: there was that in Kitely's attitude which 
forbade any other possibility. 

"He's just as I found him," whispered Garthwaite. 
"I came round this rock from there, d'ye see, and 
my foot knocked against his shoulder. But, you 
know, he 's been dragged here ! Look at that ! ' ' 

Brereton, after a glance at the body, had looked 
round at its surroundings. The wood thereabouts 
was carpeted — thickly carpeted — with pine needles; 
they lay several inches thick beneath the trunks of 
the trees; they stretched right up to the edge of 
the rock. And now, as Garthwaite turned the Ian- 



THE PINE WOOD 35 

tern, they saw that on this soft carpet there was a 
great slur — the murderer had evidently dragged his 
victim some yards across the pine needles before de- 
positing him behind the rock. And at the end of 
this mark there were plain traces of a struggle — the 
soft, easily yielding stuff was disturbed, kicked 
about, upheaved, but as Brereton at once recognized, 
it was impossible to trace footprints in it. 

"That's where it must have been," said Garth- 
waite. "You see there's a bit of a path there. The 
old man must have been walking along that path, 
and whoever did it must have sprung out on him 
there — where all those marks are — and when he'd 
strangled him dragged him here. That's how I 
figure it, Mr. Cotherstone. " 

Lights were coming up through the wood beneath 
them, glancing from point to point amongst the trees. 
Then followed a murmur of voices, and three or four 
men came into view — policemen, carrying their lamps, 
the man whom Garthwaite had sent into the town, 
and a medical man who acted as police surgeon. 

"Here !" said Bent, as the newcomers advanced and 
halted irresolutely. * * This way, doctor — ^there 's work 
for you here — of a sort, anyway. Of course, he's 
dead?" 

The doctor had gone forward as soon as he caught 
sight of the body, and he dropped on his knees at its 
side while the others gathered round. In the added 
light everybody now saw things more clearly. 
Kitely lay in a heap — just as a man would lie who 
had been unceremoniously thrown down. But Brere- 
ton 's sharp eyes saw at once that after he had been 



36 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

flung at the foot of the mass of rock some hand had 
disarranged his clothing. His overcoat and under 
coat had been torn open, hastily, if not with absolute 
violence ; the lining of one trousers pocket was pulled 
out ; there were evidences that his waistcoat had been 
unbuttoned and its inside searched : everything seemed 
to indicate that the murderer had also been a robber. 

"He's not been dead very long," said the doctor, 
looking up. ' ' Certainly not more than three-quarters 
of an hour. Strangled? Yes! — and by somebody 
who has more than ordinary knowledge of how quickly 
a man may be killed in that way ! Look how this cord 
is tied — no amateur did that." 

He turned back the neckcloth from the dead man's 
throat, and showed the others how the cord had been 
slipped round the neck in a running-knot and fastened 
tightly with a cunning twist. 

"Whoever did this had done the same thing before 
— probably more than once," he continued. "No 
man with that cord round his neck, tightly knotted 
like that, would have a chance — however free his 
hands might be. He 'd be dead before he could strug- 
gle. Does no one know anything about this? No 
more than that?" he went on, when he had heard 
what Garthwaite could tell. "Well, this is murder, 
anyway! Are there no signs of anything about 
here?" 

"Don't you think his clothing looks as if he had 
been robbed?" said Brereton, pointing to the obvious 
signs. "That should be noted before he's moved." 

"I've noted that, sir," said the police-sergeant, 
who had bent over the body while the doctor waa 



THE PINE WOOD 37 

examining it. "There's one of his pockets turned 
inside out, and all his clothing's been torn open. 
Robbery, of course — that's what it's been — murder 
for the sake of robbery!" 

One of the policemen, having satisfied his curiosity 
stepped back and began to search the surroundings 
with the aid of his lamp. He suddenly uttered a 
sharp exclamation. 

"Here's something!" he said, stooping to the foot 
of a pine-tree and picking up a dark object. "An 
old pocket-book — nothing in it, though." 

"That was his," remarked Cotherstone. "I've 
seen it before. He used to carry it in an inner pocket. 
Empty, do you say? — no papers?" 

"Not a scrap of anything," answered the police- 
man, handing the book over to his sergeant, and pro- 
ceeding to search further. "We'd best to see 
if there's any footprints about." 

"You'd better examine that path, then," said 
Garthwaite. "You'll find no prints on all this pine- 
needle stuff — naught to go by, anyway — ^it's too thick 
and soft. But he must have come along that path, 
one way or another — I've met him walking in here 
of an evening, more than once." 

The doctor, who had exchanged a word or two with 
the sergeant, turned to Cotherstone. 

"Wasn't he a tenant of yours?" he asked. "Had 
the cottage at the top of the Shawl here. Well, we'd 
better have the body removed there, and some one 
should go up and warn his family." 

"There's no family," answered Cotherstone. 
"He'd naught but a housekeeper — Miss Pett. She's 



38 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

an elderly woman — and not likely to be startled, 
from what I've seen of her." 

"I'll go," said Bent. "I know the housekeeper." 
He touched Brereton's elbow, and led him away 
amongst the trees and up the wood. "This is a 
strange affair!" he continued when they were clear 
of the others. "Did you hear what Dr. Rockcliffe 
said? — that whoever had done it was familiar with 
that sort of thing!" 

"I saw for myself," replied Brereton. "I noticed 
that cord, and the knot on it, at once. A man whose 
neck was tied up like that could be thrown down, 
thrown anywhere, left to stand up, if you like, and 
he'd be literally helpless, even if, as the doctor said, 
he had the use of his hands. He'd be unconscious 
almost at once — dead very soon afterwards. Murder ? 
— I should think so! — and a particularly brutal and 
determined one. Bent! — ^whoever killed that poor 
old fellow was a man of great strength aijd of — knowl- 
edge! Knowledge, mind you! — he knew the trick. 
You haven't any doubtful character in Highmarket 
who has ever lived in India, have you?" 

"India ! Why India ? ' ' asked Bent. 

"Because I should say that the man who did 
that job has learned some of the Indian tricks with 
cords and knots," answered Brereton. "That mur- 
der's suggestive of Thuggeeism in some respects. 
That the cottage?" he went on, pointing to a dim 
light ahead of him. * ' This housekeeper, now ? — is she 
the sort who'll take it quietly?" 

"She's as queer a character as the old fellow him- 
self was," replied Bent, as they cleared the wood and 



THE PINE WOOD 89 

entered a hedge-enclosed garden at the end of which 
stood an old-fashioned cottage. **I've talked to her 
now and then when calling here — I should say she's 
a woman of nerve." 

Brereton looked narrowly at Miss Pett when she 
opened the door. She carried a tallow candle in one 
hand and held it high above her head to throw a light 
on the callers; its dim rays fell more on herself than 
on them. A tall, gaunt, elderly woman, almost flesh- 
less of face, and with a skin the colour of old parch- 
ment, out of which shone a pair of bright black eyes ; 
the oddity of her appearance was heightened by her 
head-dress — a glaring red and yellow handkerchief 
tightly folded in such a fashion as to cover any vestige 
of hair. Her arms, bare to the elbow, and her hands 
were as gaunt as her face, but Brereton was quick 
to recognize the suggestion of physical strength in 
the muscles and sinews under the parchment-like skin. 
A strange, odd-looking woman altogether, he thought, 
and not improved by the fact that she appeared to 
have lost all her teeth, and that a long, sharp nose 
and prominent chin almost met before her sunken lips. 

"Oh, it's you, is it, Mr. Bent? " she said, before 
either of the young men could speak. *'Mr. Kitely's 
gone out for his regular bedtime constitution — he 
will have that, wet or fine, every night. But he's 
much longer than usual, and " 

She stopped suddenly, seeing some news in Bent's 
face, and her own contracted to a questioning look. 

"Is there aught amiss?" she asked. "Has some- 
thing happened him? Aught that's serious? You 
needn't be afraid to speak, Mr. Bent — there's naught 



40 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

can upset or frighten me, let me tell you — I'm past 
all that!" 

"I'm afraid Mr. Kitely's past everything, too, 
then," said Bent. He looked steadily at her for a 
moment, and seeing that she understood, went on. 
"They're bringing him up, Miss Pett — you'd better 
make ready. You won't be alarmed — I don't think 
there's any doubt that he's been murdered." 

The woman gazed silently at her visitors; then, 
nodding her turbaned head, she drew back into the 
cottage. 

"It's what I expected," she muttered. "I warned 
him — more than once. Well — let them bring him, 
then." 

She vanished into a side-room, and Bent and Brere- 
ton went down the garden and met the others, carry- 
ing the dead man. Cotherstone followed behind the 
police, and as he approached Bent he pulled him by 
the sleeve and drew him aside. 

"There's a clue!" he whispered. *'A elue, d'ye 
hear — a strong clue!" 



CHAPTER V 

THE CORD 

Ever since they had left the house at the foot of 
the pine wood, Brereton had been conscious of a cu- 
rious psychological atmosphere, centring in Cother- 
Btone. It had grown stronger as events had de- 
veloped; it was still stronger now as they stood out- 
side the dead man's cottage, the light from the open 
door and the white-curtained window falling on Coth- 
erstone 's excited face. Cotherstone, it seemed to Bre- 
reton, was unduly eager about something — he might 
almost be said to be elated. All of his behaviour was 
odd. He had certainly been shocked when Garth- 
waite burst in with the news — but this shock did not 
seem to be of the ordinary sort. He had looked like 
fainting — but when he recovered himself his whole at- 
titude (so, at any rate, it had seemed to Brereton) had 
been that of a man who has just undergone a great 
relief. To put the whole thing into a narrow com- 
pass, it seemed as if Cotherstone appeared to be pos- 
itively pleased to hear — and to find beyond doubt — 
that Kitely was dead. And now, as he stood glancing 
from one young man to the other, his eyes glittered as 
if he were absolutely enjoying the affair: he re- 
minded Brereton of that type of theatre-goer who 

41 



42 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

will insist on pointing out stage effects as they occur 
before his eyes, forcing his own appreciation of them 
upon fellow-watchers whose eyes are as keen as his 
own. 

"A strong clue!" repeated Cotherstone, and said it 
yet again. "A good 'un ! And if it 's right, it '11 clear 
matters up." 

"What is it?" asked Bent. He, too, seemed to be 
conscious that there was something odd about his pro- 
spective father-in-law, and he was gazing speculatively 
at him as if in wonder. "What sort of a clue?" 

"It's a wonder it didn't strike me — and you, too 
— at first, ' ' said Cotherstone, with a queer sound that 
was half a chuckle. * ' But as long as it 's struck some- 
body, eh? One's as good as another. You can't 
think of what it is, now?" 

"I don't know what you're thinking about," re- 
plied Bent, half impatiently. 

Cotherstone gave vent to an unmistakable chuckle 
at that, and he motioned them to follow him into the 
cottage. 

"Come and see for yourselves, then," he said. 
"You'll spot it. But, anyway — Mr. Brereton, being 
a stranger, can't be expected to." 

The three men walked into the living-room of the 
cottage — a good-sized, open-raftered, old-fashioned 
place, wherein burnt a bright fire, at either side of 
which stood two comfortable armchairs. Before one 
of these chairs, their toes pointing upwards against 
the fender, were a pair of slippers; on a table close 
by stood an old lead tobacco-box, flanked by a church- 
warden pipe, a spirit decanter, a glass, and a plate 



THE CORD 48 

on which were set out sugar and lemon — ^these Brere- 
ton took to be indicative that Kitely, his evening con- 
stitutional over, was in the habit of taking a quiet 
pipe and a glass of something warm before going to 
bed. And looking round still further he became 
aware of an open door — the door into which Miss Pett 
had withdrawn — and of a bed within on which Kitely 
now lay, with Dr. Eockcliffe and the police-sergeant 
bending over him. The other policemen stood by the 
table in the living-room, and one of them — the man 
who had picked up the pocket-book — whispered au- 
dibly to Cotherstone as he and his companions entered. 

"The doctor's taking it off him," he said, with a 
meaning nod of his head. **I'll lay aught it's as I 
say, Mr. Cotherstone." 

"Looks like it," agreed Cotherstone, rubbing his 
hands. "It certainly looks like it, George. Sharp 
of you to notice it, though." 

Brereton took this conversation to refer to the mys- 
terious clue, and his suspicion was confirmed a mo- 
ment later. The doctor and the sergeant came into 
the living-room, the doctor carrying something in his 
hand which he laid down on the centre table in full 
view of all of them. And Brereton saw then that he 
had removed from the dead man's neck the length 
of grey cord with which he had been strangled. 

There was something exceedingly sinister in the 
mere placing of that cord before the eyes of these 
riving men. It had wrought the death of another 
man, who, an hour before, had been as full of vigor- 
ous life as themselves; some man, equally vigorous, 
had used it as the instrument of a foul murder. In- 



44 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

significant in itself, a mere piece of strongly spun 
and twisted hemp, it was yet singularly suggestive — 
one man, at any rate, amongst those who stood look- 
ing at it, was reminded by it that the murderer who 
had used it must even now have the fear of another 
and a stronger cord before him. 

"Find who that cord belongs to, and you may get 
at something," suddenly observed the doctor, glanc- 
ing at the policemen. "You say it's a butcher's 
cord?" 

The man who had just whispered to Cotherstone 
nodded. 

"It's a pig-killer's cord, sir," he answered. "It's 
what a pig-killer fastens the pig down with — on the 
cratch." 

"A cratch? — ^what's that?" asked Brereton, who 
had gone clo^ to the table to examine the cord, and 
had seen thai, though slender, it was exceedingly 
strong, and of closely wrought fibre. "Is it a sort 
of hurdle?" 

"That's it, sir," assented the policeman. "It is 
a sort of hurdle — on four legs. They lay the pig on 
it, don't you see, and tie it down with a cord of this 
sort — this cord's been used for that — it's greasy with 
long use." 

"And it has been cut off a longer piece, of course,'* 
said the doctor. "These cords are of considerable 
length, aren't they?" 

"Good length, sir — ^there's a regular coil, like," 
said the man. He, too, bent down and looked at the 
length before him. * ' This has been cut off what you 
might call recent," he went on, pointing to one end. 



THE CORD 45 

"And cut off with a sharp knife, too." 

The police sergeant glanced at the doctor as if 
asking advice on the subject of putting his thoughts 
into words. 

**Well?" said the doctor, with a nod of assent. 
"Of course, you've got something in your mind, 
sergeant ? ' ' 

"Well, there is a man who kills pigs, and has such 
cords as that, lives close by, doctor," he answered. 
"You know who I mean — the man they call Gentle- 
man Jack." 

"You mean Harborough," said the doctor. "Well 
— ^you'd better ask him if he knows anything. Some- 
body might have stolen one of his cords. But there 
are other pig-killers in the town, of course." 

"Not on this side the town, there aren't," re- 
marked another policeman. 

"What is plain," continued the doctor, looking at 
Cotherstone and the others, "is that Kitely was 
strangled by this rope, and that everything on him 
of any value was taken. You'd better find out what 
he had, or was likely to have, on him, sergeant. Ask 
the housekeeper." 

Miss Pelt came from the inner room, where she 
had already begun her preparations for laying out 
the body. She was as calm as when Bent first told 
her of what had occurred, and she stood at the end 
of the table, the cord between her and her ques- 
tioners, and showed no emotion, no surprise at what 
had occurred. 

"Can you tell aught about this, ma'am?" asked 
the sergeant. "You see your master's met his death 



46 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

at somebody's hands, and there's no doubt he's bren 
robbed, too. Do you happen to know what he had on 
him?" 

The housekeeper, who had her arms full of linen, 
set her burden down on a clothes-horse in front of 
the fire before she replied. She seemed to be think- 
ing deeply, and when she turned round again, it 
was to shake her queerly ornamented head. 

"Well, I couldn't say exactly," she answered. 
"But I shouldn't wonder if it was a good deal — for 
such as him, you know. He did carry money on 
him — he was never short of money ever since I knew 
him, and sometimes he'd a fair amount in his pockets 
— I know, of course, because he'd pull it out, loose 
gold, and silver, and copper, and I've seen him take 
bank-notes out of his pocket-book. But he'd be very 
like to have a good deal more than usual on him 
tonight." 

"Why?" asked the sergeant. 

"Because he'd been to the bank this morning to 
draw his pension money," replied Miss Pett. "I 
don't know how much that would be, any more than 
I know where it came from. He was a close man — 
he'd never tell anybody more than he liked, and he 
never told me aught about that. But I do know 
it was what you'd call a fair amount— for a man that 
lives in a cottage. He went to the bank this noon — 
he always went once a quarter — and he said this 
afternoon that he'd go and pay his rent to Mr. Coth- 
erstone there — " 

"As he did," muttered Cotherstone, "yes — he did 
that." 



THE CORD 47 

**"Well, he'd have all the rest of his money on 
him," continued the housekeeper, **And he'd have 
what he had before, because he'd other money com- 
ing in than that pension. And I tell you he was the 
sort of man that carried his money about him — 
he was foolish that way. And then he'd a very 
valuable watch and chain — he told me they were a 
presentation, and cost nearly a hundred pounds. 
And of course, he'd a pocket-book full of papers." 

"This pocket-book?" asked the sergeant. 

"Aye, that's it, right enough," assented Miss Pett. 
"But he always had it bursting with bits of letters 
and papers. You don't mean to say you found it 
empty ? You did ? — ^very well then, I 'm no fool, and 
I say that if he's been murdered, there's been some 
reason for it altogether apart from robbing him of 
what money and things he had on him! Whoever 's 
taken his papers wanted 'em bad!" 

* * About his habits, now ? ' ' said the sergeant, ignor- 
ing Miss Pett's suggestion. "Did he go walking on 
the Shawl every night ? ' ' 

"Eegular as clock-work," answered the house- 
keeper. "He used to read and write a deal at night 
— ^then he'd side away all his books and papers, get 
his supper, and go out for an hour, walking round 
and about. Then he'd come in, put on his slippers — 
there they are, set down to warm for him — smoke 
one pipe, drink one glass of toddy — there's the stuff 
for it — and go to bed. He was the regularest man 
I ever knew, in all he did." 

"Was he out longer than usual tonight?" asked 
Bent, who saw that the sergeant had no more to 



48 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

ask. "You seemed to suggest that, when we came." 

**Well, he was a bit longer," admitted Miss Pett. 
**0f course, he varied. But an hour was about his 
time. Up and down and about the hill-side he 'd go — 
in and out of the coppices. I've warned him more 
than once." 

"But why?" asked Brereton, whose curiosity was 
impelling him to take a part in this drama. "What 
reason had you for warning him?" 

Miss Pett turned and looked scrutinizingly at her 
last questioner. She took a calm and close observa- 
tion of him and her curious face relaxed into some- 
thing like a smile. 

"I can tell what you are, mister," she said. "A 
law gentleman! I've seen your sort many a time. 
And you 're a sharp 'un, too ! "Well — you 're young, 
but you're old enough to have heard a thing or two. 
Did you never hear that women have got what men 
haven 't — instinct ? ' ' 

"Do you really tell me that the only reason you 
had for warning him against going out late at night 
was — instinct?" asked Brereton. "Come, now!" 

"Mostly instinct, anyhow," she answered. 
"Women have a sort of feeling about things that men 
haven't — leastways, no men that I've ever met had 
it. But of course, I'd more than that. Mr. Kitely, 
now, he was a townsman — a London man. I'm 
a countrywomaji. He didn'ti understand — ^you. 
couldn't get him to understand — that it's not safe 
to go walking in lonely places in country districts 
like this late at night. When I'd got to know his 
habits, I expostulated with him more than once. I 



THE CORD 49 

pointed out to him that in spots like this, where there 's 
naught nearer than them houses at the foot of the 
hill one way, and Harborough's cottage another way, 
and both of 'em a good quarter of a mile off, and 
where there's all these coverts and coppices and rocks, 
it was not safe for an elderly man who sported a fine 
gold watch and chain to go wandering about in the 
darkness. There 's always plenty of bad characters in 
country places who'd knock the King himself on the 
head for the sake of as much as Mr. Kitely had on 
him, even if it was no more than the chain which 
every Tom and Dick could see ! And it 's turned out 
just as I prophesied. He 's come to it ! " 

*'But you said just now that he must have been 
murdered for something else than his valuables, ' ' said 
Brereton. 

"I said that if his papers were gone, somebody 
must have wanted them bad," retorted Miss Pett. 
** Anyway, what's happened is just what I felt might 
happen, and there he is — dead. And I should be 
obliged to some of you if you'd send up a woman or 
two to help me lay him out, for I can't be expected 
to do everything by myself, nor to stop in this cottage 
alone, neither!" 

Leaving the doctor and a couple of policemen to ar- 
range matters with the housekeeper, the sergeant went 
outside, followed by the others. He turned to Coth- 
prstone. 

"I'm going down to Harborough's cottage, at the 
other end of the Shawl," he said. "I don't expect 
to learn aught much there — ^yet — but I can see if he's 



60 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

at home, anyway. If any of you gentlemen like to 
come down " 

Bent laid a hand on Cotherstone's arm and turned 
him in the direction of his house. 

"Brereton and I'll go with the sergeant," he said. 
"You must go home — Lettie'll be anxious about 
things. Go down with him, Mr. Garthwaite — ^you'll 
both hear more later." 

To Brereton's great surprise, Cotherstone made no 
objection to this summary dismissal. He and Garth- 
waite went off in one direction ; the others, led by the 
observant policeman who had found the empty pocket- 
book and recognized the peculiar properties of the 
cord, turned away in another, 

''Where's this we're going now?" asked Brereton 
as he and Bent followed their leaders through the 
trees and down the slopes of the Shawl. 

"To John Harborough's cottage — at the other end 
of the hill," answered Bent. "He's the man they 
spoke of in there. He's a queer character — a pro- 
fessional pig-killer, who has other trades as well. He 
does a bit of rat-catching, and a bit of mole-catching — 
and a good deal of poaching. In fact, he's an odd 
person altogether, not only in character but in ap- 
pearance. And the curious thing is that he's got an 
exceedingly good-looking and accomplished daughter, 
a really superior girl who's been well educated and 
earns her living as a governess in the town. Queer 
pair they make if you ever see them together ! ' ' 

"Does she live with him?" asked Brereton. 

"Oh yes, she lives with him!" replied Bent. 
**And I believe that they're very devoted to each 



THE CORD 61 

other, though everybody marvels that such a man 
should have such a daughter. There's a mystery 
about that man — odd character that he is, he's been 
well bred, and the folk hereabouts call him Gentle- 
man Jack." 

*' Won't all this give the girl a fright?" suggested 
Brereton. "Wouldn't it be better if somebody went 
quietly to the man's cottage?" 

But when they came to Harborough's cottage, at 
the far end of the Shawl, it was all in darkness. 

"Still, they aren't gone to bed," suddenly ob- 
served the policeman who had a faculty for seeing 
things. "There's a good fire burning in the kitchen 
grate, and they wouldn't leave that. Must be out, 
both of 'em." 

"Go in and knock quietly," counselled the sergeant. 

He followed the policeman up the flagged walk to 
the cottage door, and the other two presently went 
after them. In the starlight Brereton looked round 
at these new surroundings — an old, thatched cottage, 
set in a garden amongst trees and shrubs, with a 
lean-to shed at one end of it, and over everything an 
atmosphere of silence. 

The silence was suddenly broken. A quick, light 
step sounded on the flagged path behind them, and 
the policemen turned their lamps in its direction. 
And Brereton, looking sharply round, became aware 
of the presence of a girl, who looked at these visitors 
wonderingly out of a pair of beautiful grey eyes. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE MAYOR 

Here, then, thought Brereton, was Gentleman 
Jack's daughter — the girl of whom Bent had just 
been telling him. He looked at her narrowly as she 
stood confronting the strange group. A self-pos- 
sessed young woman, he said to himself — ^beyond a 
little heightening of colour, a little questioning look 
about eyes and lips she showed no trace of undue 
surprise or fear. Decidedly a good-looking young 
woman, too, and not at all the sort of daughter that 
a man of queer character would be supposed to have 
— refined features, an air of breeding, a suggestion of 
culture. And he noticed that as he and Bent raised 
their hats, the two policemen touched their helmets — 
they were evidently well acquainted with the girl, 
and eyed her with some misgiving as well as respect. 

**Beg pardon, miss," said the sergeant, who was 
obviously anything but pleased with his task. "But 
it's like this, d'you see? — ^your father, now, does he 
happen to be at home?" 

**What is it you want?" she asked. And begin- 
ning a glance of inquiry at the sergeant she finished 
it at Bent. "Has something happened, Mr. Bent?" 
she went on. "If you want my father, and he's not 

52 



THE MAYOR 63 

in, then I don't know where he is — he went out early 
in the evening, and he hadn't returned when I left the 
house an hour ago.'* 

"I daresay it's nothing," replied Bent. **But the 
fact is that something has happened. Your neigh- 
bour at the other end of the wood — old Mr, Kitely, 
you know — he's been found dead." 

Brereton, closely watching the girl, saw that this 
conveyed nothing to her, beyond the mere announce- 
ment. She moved towards the door of the cottage, 
taking a key from her muff. 

"Yes?" she said. **And — I suppose you want my 
father to help? He may be in — he may have gone 
to bed." 

She unlocked the door, walked into the open liv- 
ing-room, and turning up a lamp which stood on the 
table, glanced around her. 

"No," she continued. "He's not come in — • 
so " 

"Better tell her, Mr. Bent," whispered the ser- 
geant. "No use keeping it back, sir — she'll have to 
know. ' ' 

"The fact is," said Bent, "Mr. Kitely— we're 
afraid — has been murdered." 

The girl turned sharply at that; her eyes dilated, 
and a brighter tinge of colour came into her cheeks. 

"Murdered!" she exclaimed. "Shot?" 

Her eyes went past Bent to a comer of the room, 
and Brereton, following them, saw that there stood 
a gun, placed amongst a pile of fishing-rods and 



64. THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

similar sporting implements. Her glance rested on 
it for only the fraction of a second ; then it went back 
to Bent's face. 

"I'd better tell you everything," said Bent quietly. 
"Mr. Kitely has been strangled. And the piece of 
cord with which it was done is — so the police here 
say — ^just such a piece as might have been cut off one 
of the cords which your father uses in his trade, you 
know. ' ' 

"We aren't suggesting aught, you know, Miss 
Avice," remarked the sergeant. "Don't go for to 
think that — at present. But, you see, Harborough, 
he might have one o' those cords hanging about some- 
where, and — do you understand?" 

The girl had become very quiet, looking steadily 
from one man to the other. Once more her eyes 
settled on Bent. 

"Do you know why Kitely was killed?" she asked 
suddenly. "Have you seen any reason for it?" 

"He had been robbed, after his death," answered 
Bent. "That seems absolutely certain." 

"Whatever you may say, you've got some suspicion 
about my father," she remarked after a pause. 
"Well — all I can say is, my father has no need to rob 
anybody — far from it, if you want the truth. But 
what do you want?" she continued, a little impa- 
tiently. "My father isn't in, and I don't know 
where he is — often he is out all ni^ht." 

"If we could just look round his shed, now?'* 
said the sergeant. "Just to see if aught 's missing^ 
like, you know. You see, miss " 

"You can look round the shed — and round any- 



THE MAYOR 55 

where else," said Aviee. ** Though what good that 
will do — well, you know where the shed is." 

She turned away and began taking off her hat and 
coat, and the four men went out into the garden and 
turned to the lean-to shed at the end of the cottage. 
A tiled verandah ran along the front of cottage and 
shed, and the door of the shed was at its further end. 
But as the sergeant was about to open it, the police- 
man of the observant nature made his third discov- 
ery. He had been flashing the light of his bull's-eye 
lamp over his surroundings, and he now turned it on 
a coil of rope which hung from a nail in the boarded 
wall of the shed, between the door and the window. 

"There you are, gentlemen!" he said, lifting the 
lamp in one hand and pointing triumphantly to a 
definite point of the coiled cord with the index finger 
of the other. ' ' There ! Cut clean, too — just like the 
bit up yonder!" 

Brereton pressed forward and looked narrowly at 
what the man was indicating. There was no doubt 
that a length of cord had been freshly cut off the 
coil, and cut, too, with an unusually sharp, keen- 
bladed knife; the edges of the severance were clean 
and distinct, the separated strands were fresh and 
unsoiled. It was obvious that a piece of that cord 
had been cut from the rest within a very short time, 
and the sergeant shook his head gravely as he took 
the coil down from its nail. 

**I don't think there's any need to look round 
much further, Mr. Bent," he said. "Of course, I 
shall take this away with me, and compare it with 
the shorter piece. But we'll just peep into this shed, 



66 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

so as to make his daughter beliave that was what we 
wanted : I don 't want to frighten her more than we 
have done. Naught there, you see, ' ' he went on, open- 
ing the shed door and revealing a whitewashed in- 
terior furnished with fittings and articles of its own- 
er's trade. "Well, we'll away — with what we've 
got.'' 

He went back to the door of the cottage and put- 
ting his head inside called gently to its occupant. 

**"Well?" demanded Avice. 

"All right, miss — we're going," said the sergeant. 
"But if your father comes in, just ask him to step 
down to the police-station, d'you see? — I should like 
to have a word or two with him." 

The girl made no answer to this gentle request, and 
when the sergeant had joined the others, she shut 
the door of the cottage, and Brereton heard it locked 
and bolted. 

"That's about the strangest thing of all!" he said 
as he and Bent left the policemen and turned down 
a by-lane which led towards the town. "I haven't a 
doubt that the piece of cord with which Kitely was 
strangled was cut off that coil! Now what does it 
mean? Of course, to me it's the very surest proof 
that this man Harborough had nothing to do with the 
murder." 

"Why?" asked Bent. 

"Why? My dear fellow!" exclaimed Brereton. 
"Do you really think that any man who was in pos- 
session of his senses would do such a thing? Take a 
piece of cord from a coil — leave the coil where any- 
body could find it — strangle a man with the severed 



THE MAYOR 57 

piece and leave it round the victim's neck? Absurd! 
No — a thousand times no!" 

''Well— and what then?" asked Bent. 

"Ah! Somebody cut that piece off — for the use 
it was put to," answered Brereton. *'But — who?" 

Bent made no reply for a while. Then, as they 
reached the outskirts of the town, he clapped a hand 
on his companion's arm. 

"You're forgetting something — in spite of your 
legal mind," he said. "The murderer may have 
been interrupted before he could remove it. And in 
that case " 

He stopped suddenly as a gate opened in the wall 
of a garden which they were just passing, and a tall 
man emerged. In the light of the adjacent lamp 
Bent recognized Mallalieu. Mallalieu, too, recog- 
nized him, and stopped. 

"Oh, that you, Mr. Mayor!" exclaimed Bent. "I 
was just wondering whether to drop in on you as I 
passed. Have you heard what's happened tonight?" 

"Heard naught," replied Mallalieu. "I've just 
been having a hand at whist with Councillor North- 
rop and his wife and daughter. What has happened, 
then?" 

They were all three walking towards the town by 
that time, and Bent slipped between Brereton and 
Mallalieu and took the Mayor's arm. 

"Murder's happened," he said. "That's the 
plain truth of it. You know old Kitely — ^your part- 
ner 's tenant ? Well, somebody 's killed him. ' ' 

The effect of this announcement on Mallalieu was 
extraordinary. Bent felt the arm into which he had 



58 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

just slipped his own literally quiver with a spasmodic 
response to the astonished brain ; the pipe which Mal- 
lalieu was smoking fell from his lips; out of his lips 
came something very like a cry of dismay. 

"God bless me!" he exclaimed. "You don't say 
so!" 

"It's a fact," said Bent. He stopped and picked 
up the fallen pipe. "Sorry I let it out so clumsily — 
I didn't think it would affect you like that. But 
there it is — Kitely's been murdered. Strangled!" 

"Strangled!" echoed Mallalieu. "Dear — dear — 
dear! When was this, now?" 

"Within the hour," replied Bent. "Mr, Brereton 
here — a friend of mine from London — and I were 
spending the evening at your partner's, when that 
neighbour of his, Garthwaite, came running in to 
tell Mr. Cotherstone that Eately was lying dead on 
the Shawl. Of course we all went up." 

"Then — you've seen him?" demanded Mallalieu. 
"There's no doubt about it?" 

"Doubt!" exclaimed Bent. "I should think there 
is no doubt ! As determined a murder as ever I heard 
of. No — there's no doubt.'* 

Mallalieu paused — at the gate of his own house. 

"Come in, gentlemen," he said. "Come in just 
a minute, anyway. I — egad it's struck me all of a 
heap, has that news! Murder? — there hasn't been 
such a thing in these parts ever since I came here, 
near thirty years ago. Come in and tell me a bit 
more about it." 

He led the way up a gravelled drive, admitted him- 
self and his visitors to the house with a latchkey, and 



THE MAYOR 59 

turned into a parlour where a fire burned and a small 
supper-tray was set out on a table beneath a lamp. 

"All my folks '11 have gone to bed," he said. 
"They go and leave me a bite of something, you see 
— I'm often out late. Will you gentlemen have a 
sandwich — or a dry biscuit? Well, you'll have a 
drink, then. And so," he went on, as he produced 
glasses from the sideboard, ' * and so you were spending 
the evening with Cotherstone, what?" 

"Well, I can't say that we exactly spent all the 
evening with him," answered Bent, "because he had 
to go out for a good part of it, on business. But we 
were with him — ^we were at his house — when the news 
came. ' ' 

"Aye, he had to go out, had he?" asked Mallalieu, 
as if from mere curiosity. "What time would that 
be, like? I knew he'd business tonight — ^business of 
ours. ' ' 

"Nine to ten, roughly speaking," replied Bent. 
"He'd just got in when Garth waite came with the 
news. ' ' 

"It 'ud shock him, of course," suggested Mallalieu. 
"His own tenant!" 

"Yes — it was a shock," agreed Bent. He took the 
glass which his host handed to him and sat down. 
" We 'd better tell you all about it, ' ' he said. " It 's a 
queer affair — Mr. Brereton here, who's a barrister, 
thinks it's a very queer affair." 

Mallalieu nodded and sat down, too, glass in hand. 
He listened attentively — and Brereton watched him 
while he listened. A sleek, sly, observant, watchful 
man, this, said Brereton to himself — the sort that 



eO THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

wcmld take all in and give little out. And he waited 
expectantly to hear what Mallalieu woTild say when 
he had heard everything. 

Mallalieu turned to him when Bent had finished. 

"I agree with you, sir," he said. "Nobody but a 
fool would have cut that piece of cord off, left it round 
the man's neck, and left the coil hanging where any- 
body could find it. And that man Harborough's no 
fool ! This isn 't his job, Bent. No ! " 

** Whose, then?" asked Bent. 

MaUalieu suddenly drank off the contents of his 
glass and rose. 

"As I'm chief magistrate, I'd better go down to 
see the police, ' ' he said. * * There 's been a queer char- 
acter or two hanging about the town of late. I 'd bet- 
ter stir 'em up. You won't come down, I suppose?" 
he continued when they left the house togther. 

"No — ^we can do no good," answered Bent. 

His own house was just across the road from Mal- 
lalieu 's, and he and Brereton said goodnight and 
turned towards it as the Mayor strode quickly ofif 
in the direction of the police-station. 



CH^VPTER Vn 

NIGHT WORK 

From the little colony of new houses at the foot 
of the Shawl to the police station at the end of the 
High Street was only a few minutes' walk. Mal- 
lalieu was a quick walker, and he covered this dis- 
tance at his top speed. But during those few min- 
utes he came to a conclusion, for he was as quick of 
thought as in the use of his feet. 

Of course, Cotherstone had killed Kitely. That 
was certain. He had begun to suspect that as soon 
as he heard of the murder; he became convinced of 
it as soon as young Bent mentioned that Cotherstone 
had left his guests for an hour after supper. With- 
out a doubt Cotherstone had lost his head and done 
this foolish thing! And now Cotherstone must be 
protected, safe-guarded; heaven and earth must be 
moved lest suspicion should fall on him. For noth- 
ing could be done to Cotherstone without effect upon 
himself — and of himself — and of himself Mallalieu 
meant to take very good care. Never mind what in- 
nocent person suffered, Cotherstone must go free. 

And the first thing to do was to assume direction 
of the police, to pull strings, to engineer matters. 
No matter how much he believed in Harborough's in- 

61 



62 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

nocence, Harborough was the man to go for — at pres- 
ent. Attention must be concentrated on him, and on 
him only. Anything — anything, at whatever cost of 
morals and honesty to divert suspicion from that fool 
of a Cotherstone! — if it were not already too late. 
It was the desire to make sure that it was not too late, 
the desire to be beforehand, that made Mallalieu 
hasten to the police. He knew his own power, he had 
a supreme confidence in his ability to manage things, 
and he was determined to give up the night to the 
scheme already seething in his fertile brain rather 
than that justice should enter upon what he would 
consider a wrong course. 

While he sat silently and intently listening to 
Bent's story of the crime, Mallalieu, who could think 
and listen and give full attention to both mental 
processes without letting either suffer at the expense 
of the other, had reconstructed the murder. He knew 
Cotherstone — ^nobody knew him half as well. Cother- 
stone was what Mallalieu called deep — ^he was ingen- 
ious, resourceful, inventive. Cotherstone, in the early 
hours of the evening, had doubtless thought the whole 
thing out. He would be well acquainted with his pro- 
spective victim's habits. He would know exactly 
when and where to waylay Kitely. The filching of 
the piece of cord from the wall of Harborough 's shed 
was a clever thing — infernally clever, thought Mal- 
lalieu, who had a designing man's whole-hearted ad- 
miration for any sort of cleverness in his own par- 
ticular line. It would be an easy thing to do — and 
what a splendidly important thing ! Of course Coth- 
erstone knew all about Harborough 's arrangements 



NIGHT WORK 6S 

' — ^he would often pass the pig-killer's house — from 
the hedge of the garden he would have seen the coils 
of greased rope hanging from their nails under the 
verandah roof, aye, a thousand times. Nothing easier 
than to slip into Harborough's garden from the adja- 
cent wood, cut off a length of the cord, use it — and 
leave it as a first bit of evidence against a man whose 
public record was uncertain. Oh, very clever indeed ! 
— if only Cotherstone could carry things off, and not 
allow his conscience to write marks on his face. And 
he must help — and innocent as he felt Harborough to 
be, he must set things going against Harborough — his 
life was as naught, against the Mallalieu-Cotherstone 
safety. 

Mallalieu walked into the police-station, to find the 
sergeant just returned and in consultation with the 
superintendent, whom he had summoned to hear his 
report. Both turned inquiringly on the Mayor. 

"I've heard all about it," said Mallalieu, bustling 
forward. **Mr. Bent told me. Now then, where 's 
that cord they talk about?" 

The sergeant pointed to the coil and the severed 
piece, which lay on a large sheet of brown paper on a 
side-table, preparatory to being sealed up. Malla- 
lieu crossed over and made a short examination of 
these exhibits; then he turned to the superintendent 
with an air of decision. 

"Aught been done?" he demanded. 

"Not yet, Mr. Mayor," answered the superintend- 
ent. "We were just consulting as to what's best to 
be done." 

"I should think that's obvious," replied Mallalieu. 



64 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

*'You must get to work! Two things you want to 
do just now. Ring up Norcaster for one thing, and 
High Gill Junction for another. Give 'em a descrip- 
tion of Harborough — he'll probably have made for 
one place or another, to get away by train. And ask 
'em at Norcaster to lend you a few plain-clothes 
men, and to send 'em along here at once by motor — 
there's no train till morning. Then, get all your own 
men out — now! — and keep folk off the paths in that 
wood, and put a watch on Harborough 's house, in 
case he should put a bold face on it and come back — 
he's impudence enough — and of course, if he comes, 
they '11 take him. Get to all that now — at once ! ' ' 

"You think it's Harborough, then?" said the su- 
perintendent. 

*'I think there's what the law folks call a prymer 
facy case against him," replied Mallalieu. "It's 
your duty to get him, anyway, and if he can clear 
himself, why, let him. Get busy with that telephone, 
and be particular about help from Norcaster — ^we're 
under-staffed here as it is." 

The superintendent hurried out of his oflSce and 
Mallalieu turned to the sergeant. 

"I understood from Mr. Bent," he said, "that that 
housekeeper of Kitely's said the old fellow had been 
to the bank at noon today, to draw some money? 
That so?" 

"So she said, your "Worship," answered the 
sergeant. "Some allowance, or something of that 
sort, that he drew once a quarter. She didn't know 
how much." 

**But she thought he'd have it on him when he was 



NIGHT WORK 66 

attacked?" asked Mallalieu. 

* * She said he was a man for carrying his money on 
him always," replied the sergeant. " We under- 
stood from her it was his habit. She says he always 
had a good bit on him — as a rule. And of course, 
if he'd drawn more today, why, he might have a 
fair lot." 

'*We'U soon find that out," remarked Mallalieu. 
"I'll step round to the bank manager and rouse 
him. Now you get your men together — ^this is no 
time for sleeping. You ought to have men up at the 
Shawl now." 

''I've left one man at Kitely's cottage, sir, and 
another about Harborough's — in case Harborough 
should come back during the night," said the 
sergeant. "We've two more constables close by the 
station. I'll get them up." 

"Do it just now," commanded Mallalieu. " I'U be 
back in a while." 

He hurried out again and went rapidly down the 
High Street to the old-fashioned building near the 
Town Hall in which the one bank of the little town 
did its business, and in which the bank manager 
lived. There was not a soul about in the street, 
and the ringing of the bell at the bank-house door, 
and the loud knock which Mallalieu gave in supple- 
ment to it, seemed to wake innumerable echoes. And 
proof as he believed himself to be against such slight 
things, the sudden opening of a window above his 
head made him jump. 

The startled bank-manager, hurrying down to his 
midnight visitor in his dressing-gown and slippers, 



66 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

stood aghast when he had taken the Mayor within 
and learned his errand. 

''Certainly!" he said. "Kitely was in the bank 
today, about noon — I attended to him myself. That's 
the second time he's been here since he came to the 
town. He called here a day or two after he first 
took that house from Mr. Cotherstone — ^to cash a 
draft for his quarter's pension. He told me then 
who he was. Do you know?" 

"Not in the least," replied Mallalieu, telling the 
lie all the more readily because he had been fully 
prepared for the question to which it was an answer. 
**I knew naught about him." 

"He was an ex-detective," said the bank-manager. 
** Pensioned off, of course: a nice pension. He told 
me he'd had — I believe it was getting on to forty 
years' service in the police force. Dear, dear, this is 
a sad business — and I'm afraid I can tell you a bit 
more about it." 

"What?" demanded Mallalieu, showing surprise in 
spite of himself. 

"You mentioned Harborough," said the bank-man- 
ager, shaking his head. 

' ' WeU ? ' ' said MallaUeu. ' ' What then ? ' ' 

"Harborough was at the counter when Kitely took 
his money," answered the bank-manager. "He had 
caUed in to change a five-pound note." 

The two men looked at each other in silence for a 
time. Then the bank-manager shook his head again. 

"You wouldn't think that a man who has a five- 
pound note of his own to change would be likely, to 
murder another man for what he could get," he went 



NIGHT WORK 67 

on. "But Kitely had a nice bit of money to carry 
away, and he wore a very valuable gold watch and 
chain, which he was rather fond of showing in the 
town, and eh?" 

**It's a suspicious business," said Mallalieu. 
"You say Harborough saw Kitely take his money?" 

"Couldn't fail," replied the bank-manager. "He 
was standing by him. The old man put it — notes 
and gold — in a pocket that he had inside his waist- 
coat. ' ' 

Mallalieu lingered, as if in thought, rubbing his 
chin and staring at the carpet. "Well, that's a sort 
of additional clue," he remarked at last. "It looks 
very black against Harborough." 

"We've the numbers of the notes that I handed 
to Kitely," observed the bank-manager. " They may 
be useful if there's any attempt to change any note, 
you know." 

Mallalieu shook his head. 

" Aye, just so," he answered. "But I should say 
there won't be — just yet. It's a queer business, isn't 
it — ^but, as I say, there's evidence against this fellow, 
and we must try to get him." 

He went out then and crossed the street to the 
doctor's house — while he was about it, he wanted 
to know all he could. And with the doctor he stopped 
much longer than he had stopped at the bank, and 
when he left him he was puzzled. For the doctor 
said to him what he had said to Cotherstone and to 
Bent and to the rest of the group in the wood — that 
whoever had strangled Kitely had had experience in 
that sort of grim work before — or else he was a sailor- 



68 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

man who had expert knowledge of tying knots. Now 
Mallalieu was by that time more certain than ever 
that Cotherstone was the murderer, and he felt sure 
that Cotherstone had no experience of that sort of 
thing. 

''Done with a single twist and a turn! " he mut- 
tered to himself as he walked back to the police- 
station. "Aye — aye ! — that seems to show knowledge. 
But it's not my business to follow that up just now — 
I know what my business is — nobody better." 

The superintendent and the sergeant were giving 
orders to two sleepy-eyed policemen when Mallalieu 
rejoined them. He waited until the policemen had 
gone away to patrol the Shawl and then took the 
superintendent aside. 

"I've heard a bit more incriminatory news against 
Harborough," he said. "He was in the bank this 
morning — or yesterday morning, as it now is — when 
Kitely drew his money. There may be naught in 
that — and there may be a lot. Anyway, he knew the 
old man had a goodish bit on him." 

The superintendent nodded, but his manner was 
doubtful. 

"Well, of course, that's evidence — considering 
things," he said, "but you know as well as I do, Mr. 
Mayor, that Harborough 's not a man that's ever 
been in want of money. It's the belief of a good 
many folks in the town that he has money of his 
own: he's always been a bit of a mystery ever since 
I can remember. He could afford to give that daugh- 
ter of his a good education — good as a young lady 
gets — and he spends plenty, and I never heard of 



NIGHT WORK 69 

liim owing aught. Of course, he's a queer lot — we 
know he's a poacher and all that, but he's so skilful 
about it that we've never been able to catch him. I 
can't think he's the guilty party — and yet " 

"You can't get away from the facts," said Malla- 
lieu. "He'll have to be sought for. If he's made 
himself scarce — if he doesn't come home " 

"Ah, that 'ud certainly be against him !" agreed the 
superintendent. "Well, I'm doing all I can. We've 
got our own men out, and there 's three officers coming 
over from Norcaster by motor — ^they're on the way 
now." 

"Send for me if aught turns up," said Mallalieu. 

He walked slowly home, his brain still busy with 
possibilities and eventualities. And within five min- 
utes of his waking at his usual hour of six it was 
again busy — and curious. For he and Cotherstone, 
both keen business men who believed in constant su- 
pervision of their" workmen, were accustomed to meet 
at the yard at half -past six every morning, summer or 
winter, and he was wondering what his partner would 
say and do — and look like. 

Cotherstone was in the yard when Mallalieu 
reached it. He was giving some orders to a carter, 
and he finished what he was doing before coming up 
to Mallalieu. In the half light of the morning he 
looked pretty much as usual — but Mallalieu noticed 
a certain worn look under his eyes and suppressed 
nervousness in his voice. He himself remained si- 
lent and observant, and he let Cotherstone speak 
first. 

"Well?" said Cotherstone, coming close to him as 



70 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

they stood in a vacant space outside the office^ 
"WeU?" 

''Well?" responded Mallalieu. 

Cotherstone began to fidget with some account book* 
and papers that he had brought from his house. He 
eyed his partner with furtive glances ; Mallalieu eyed 
him with steady and watchful ones. 

"I suppose you've heard all about it? " said Coth- 
erstone, after an awkward silence. 

"Aye!" replied Mallalieu, drily. "Aye, I've 
heard." 

Cotherstone looked round. There was no one near 
him, but he dropped his voice to a whisper. 

"So long as nobody but him knew," he muttered, 
giving Mallalieu another side glance, "so long as he 
hadn't said aught to anybody — and I don't think he 
had — we 're — safe. ' ' 

Mallalieu was still staring quietly at Cotherstone. 
And Cotherstone began to grow restless under that 
steady, questioning look. 

"Oh?" observed Mallalieu, at last. "Aye? You 
think so? Ah!" 

"Good God — don't you!" exclaimed Cotherstone, 
roused to a sudden anger. "Why " 

But just then a policeman came out of the High 
Street into the yard, caught sight of the two part- 
ners, and came over to them, touching his helmet. 

* ' Can your Worship step across the way ? " he asked. 
"They've brought Harborough down, and the Super 
wants a word with you." 



CHIAPTEB Vm 

RETAINED FOR THE DEFENCE 

Instead of replying to the policeman by word or 
movement, Mallalieu glanced at Cotherstone. 
There was a curious suggestion in that glanc§' which 
Cotherstone did not like. He was already angry; 
Mallalieu 's inquiring look made him still angrier. 

"Like to come?" asked Mallalieu, laconically. 

**No!" answered Cotherstone, turning towards the 
office. ''It's naught to me." 

He disappeared within doors, and Mallalieu walked 
out of the yard into the High Street — to run against 
Bent and Brereton, who were hurrying in the direc- 
tion of the police-station, in company with anotheif 
constable. 

"Ah!" said Mallalieu as they met. "So you've 
heard, too, I suppose? Heard that Harborough's 
been taken, I mean. Now, how was he taken?" he 
went on, turning to the policeman who had summoned 
him. "And when, and where? — diet's be knowing 
about it." 

"He wasn't taken, your Worship," replied the man. 
"Leastways, not in what you'd call the proper way. 
He came back to his house half an hour or so ago — 
when it was just getting nicely light — and two of 

71 



72 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

our men that were there told him what was going on, 
and he appeared to come straight down with them. 
He says he knows naught, your "Worship. ' ' 

"That's what you'd expect," remarked Mallalieu, 
drily. "He'd be a fool if he said aught else." 

He put his thumbs in the armholes of his waist- 
coat, and, followed by the others, strolled into the 
police-station as if he were dropping in on business 
of trifling importance. And there was nothing to 
be seen there which betokened that a drama of life 
and death was being constructed in that formal- 
looking place of neutral-coloured walls, precise furni- 
ture, and atmosphere of repression. Three or four 
men stood near the superintendent's desk; a police- 
man was writing slowly and laboriously on a big sheet 
of blue paper at a side-table, a woman was coaxing a 
sluggish fire to bum. 

' ' The whole thing 's ridiculous ! ' ' said a man 's scorn- 
ful voice. * * It shouldn 't take five seconds to see that.' 

Brereton instinctively picked out the speaker. 
That was Harborough, of course — ^the tall man who 
stood facing the others and looking at them as if he 
wondered how they could be as foolish as he evi- 
dently considered them to be. He looked at this 
man with great curiosity. There was certainly 
something noticeable about him, he decided. A wiry, 
alert, keen-eyed man, with good, somewhat gip^-like 
features, much tanned by the weather, as if he were 
perpetually exposed to sun and wind, rain and hail; 
sharp of movement, evidently of more than ordinary 
intelligence, and, in spite of his rough garments and 



RETAINED FOR THE DEFENCE 73 

fur cap, having an indefinable air of gentility and 
breeding about him, Brereton had already noticed 
the pitch and inflection of his voice; now, as Har- 
borough touched his cap to the Mayor, he noticed that 
his hands, though coarsened and weather-browned, 
were well-shaped and delicate. Something about him, 
something in his attitude, the glance of his eye, 
seemed to indicate that he was the social superior of 
the policemen, uniformed or plain-clothed, who were 
watching him with speculative and slightly puzzled 
looks. 

"Well, and what's all this, now?" said Mallalieu 
coming to a halt and looking round. "What's he got 
to say, like?" 

The superintendent looked at Harborough and 
nodded. And Harborough took that nod at its true 
meaning, and he spoke — readily. 

"This!" he said, turning to the new-comers, and 
finally addressing himself to Mallalieu. "And it's 
what I've already said to the superintendent here. 
I know nothing about what's happened to Kitely. I 
know no more of his murder than you do — not so 
much, I should say — for I know naught at all beyond 
what I 've been told, I left my house at eight o 'clock 
last night — I've been away all night — I got back at 
six o'clock this morning. As soon as I heard what 
was afoot, I came straight here. I put it to you, Mr. 
Mayor— if I'd killed this old man, do you think I'd 
have come back? Is it likely?" 

"You might ha' done, you know," answered Mal- 
lalieu. "There's no accounting for what folks will 



74 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

do — ^in such cases. But — what else? Say aught you 
like-T'it's all informal, this." 

"Very well," continued Harborough. "They tell 
me the old man was strangled by a piece of cord that 
was evidently cut off one of my coils. Now, is there 
any man in his common senses would believe that if I 
did that job, I should leave such a bit of clear evi- 
dence behind me? I'm not a fool!" 

"You might ha' been interrupted before you could 
take that cord off his neck, ' ' suggested Mallalieu. 

"Aye — but you'd have to reckon up the average 
chances of that ! ' ' exclaimed Harborough, with a sharp 
glance at the bystanders. "And the chances are in 
my favour. No, sir ! — whoever did this job, cut that 
length of cord off my coil, which anybody could get 
at, and used it to throw suspicion on me ! That 's the 
truth — and you'll find it out some day, whatever hap- 
pens now." 

Mallalieu exchanged glances with the superintend- 
ent and then faced Harborough squarely, with an air 
of inviting confidence. 

"Now, my lad!" he said, almost coaxingly. 
** There's a very simple thing to do, and it'll clear 
this up as far as you're concerned. Just answer a 
plain question. Where ha' you been all night?" 

A tense silence fell — broken by the crackling of the 
wood in the grate, which the charwoman had at last 
succeeded in stirring into a blaze, and by the rattling 
of the fire-irons which she now arranged in the fender. 
Everybody was watching the suspected man, and no- 
body as keenly as Brereton. And Brereton saw that 
ft deadlock was at hand. A strange look of obstinacy 



RETAINED FOR THE DEFENCE 76 

and hardness came into Harborough 's eyes, and he 
shook his head. 

" No ! " he answered. ' * I shan 't say ! The truth '11 
come out in good time without that. It's not neces- 
sary for me to say. Where I was during the night 
is my business — nobody else's." 

"You'll not tell?" asked Mallalieu. 

"I shan't tell," replied Harborough. 

"You're in danger, you know," said Mallalieu. 

**In your opinion," responded Harborough, dog- 
gedly. "Not in mine! There's law in this country. 
You can arrest me, if you like — but you '11 have your 
work set to prove that I killed yon old man. No, sir ! 

But " here he paused, and looking round him, 

laughed almost maliciously " — but I'll tell you what 
I '11 do, ' ' he went on. "I '11 teU you this, if it '11 do you 
any good — if I liked to say the word, I could prove 
my innocence down to the ground ! There ! ' ' 

"And you won't say that word?" asked Mallalieu. 

"I shan't! Why? Because it's not necessary. 
Why!" demanded Harborough, laughing with an 
expresssion of genuine contempt. "What is there 
against me? Naught! As I say, there's law in 
this country — there's such a thing as a jury. Da 
you believe that any jury would convict a man on 
what you've got? It's utter nonsense!" 

The constable who had come down from the Shawl 
with Bent and Brereton had for some time been en- 
deavouring to catch the eye of the superintendent. 
Succeeding in his attempts at last, he beckoned that 
official into a quiet comer of the room, and turning 
his back on the group near the fireplace, pulled some- 



76 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

thing out of his pocket. The two men bent over it, 
and the constable began to talk in whispers. 

Mallalieu meanwhile was eyeing Harborough in his 
stealthy, steady fashion. He looked as if he was reck- 
oning him up. 

"Well, my lad," he observed at last. "You're 
making a mistake. If you can't or won't tell what 
you've been doing with yourself between eight last 
night and six this morning, why, then " 

The superintendent came back, holding something 
in his hand. He, too, looked at Harborough. 

"Will you hold up your left foot? — turn the sole 
up," he asked. "Just to see — something." 

Harborough complied, readily, but with obvious 
scornful impatience. And when he had shown the 
sole of the left foot, the superintendent opened his 
hand and revealed a small crescent-shaped bit of 
bright steel. 

' ' That 's off the toe of your boot, Harborough, ' ' he 
said. "You know it is! And it's been picked up — 
just now, as it .were — where this affair happened. 
You must have lost it there during the last few hours, 
because it's quite bright — not a speck of rust on it, 
you see. What do you say to that, now?" 

"Naught!" retorted Harborough, defiantly. "It is 
mine, of course — I noticed it was working loose yes- 
terday. And if it was picked up in that wood, what 
then? I passed through there last night on my way 
to — where I was going. God — you don't mean to say 
you'd set a man's life on bits o 'things like that!" 

Mallalieu beckoned the superintendent aside and 
talked with him. Almost at once he himself turned 



RETAINED FOR THE DEFENCE TT 

away and left the room, and the superintendent came 
back to the group by the fireplace. 

"Well, there's no help for it, Harborough," he 
said. *'We shall have to detain you — and I shall 
have to charge you, presently. It can't be helped — 
and I hope you'll be able to clear yourself." 

"I expected nothing else," replied Harborough. 
" I 'm not blaming you — nor anybody. Mr. Bent, ' ' he 
continued, turning to where Bent and Brereton stood 
a little apart. "I'd be obliged to you if you'd do 
something for me. Go and tell my daughter about 
this, if you please! You see, I came straight down 
here — I didn't go into my house when I got back. 
If you'd just step up and tell her — and bid her not 
be afraid — there's naught to be afraid of, as she'll 
find — as everybody '11 find." 

"Certainly," said .Bent. "I'll go at once." He 
tapped Brereton on the arm, and led him out into the 
street. "Well?" he asked, when they were outside. 
"What do you think of that, now?" 

"That man gives one all the suggestion of inno- 
cence," remarked Brereton, thoughtfully, "and from 
a merely superficial observation of him, I, personally, 
should say he is innocent. But then, you know, I've 
known the most hardened and crafty criminals as- 
sume an air of innocence, and keep it up, to the very 
end. However, we aren't concerned about that just 
now — ^the critical point here, for Harborough, at any 
rate, is the evidence against him." 

"And what do you think of that?" asked Bent. 
' "There's enough to warrant his arrest," answered 
Brereton, "and he'll be committed on it, and he'll go 



78 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

for trial. All that's certain — unless he's a sensible 
man, and tells what he was doing with himself between 
eight and ten o'clock last night." 

"Ah, and why doesn't he?" said Bent. "He must 
have some good reason. I wonder if his daughter 
can persuade him?" 

"Isn't that his daughter coming towards us?" in- 
quired Brereton. 

Bent glanced along the road and saw Avice Har- 
borough at a little distance, hastening in their direc- 
tion and talking earnestly to a middle-aged man who 
was evidently listening with grave concern to what 
she said. 

"Yes, that's she," he replied, "and that's North- 
rop with her — the man that Mallalieu was playing 
cards with last night. She 's governess to Northrop 's 
two younger children — I expect she's heard about her 
father, and has been to get Northrop to come down 
with her — ^he's a magistrate." 

Avice listened with ill-concealed impatience while 
Bent delivered his message. He twice repeated Har- 
borough's injunction that she was not to be afraid, 
and her impatience increased. 

**I*m not afraid," she answered. "That is, afraid 
of nothing but my father's obstinacy! I know him. 
And I know that if he's said he won't tell anything 
about his whereabouts last night, he won't! And if 
you want to help him — as you seem to do — ^you must 
recognize that." 

"Wouldn't he tell you?" suggested Brereton. 

The girl shook her head. 

"Once or twice a year," she answered, "he goe** 



RETAINED FOR THE DEFENCE 79 

away for a night, like that, and I never know — 
never have known — where he goes. There's some 
mystery about it — I know there is. He won't tell — 
he'll let things go to the last, and even then he won't 
tell. You won't be able to help him that way — • 
there's only one way you can help." 

' ' What way ? ' ' asked Bent. 

"Find the murderer!" exclaimed Avice with a 
quick flash of her eyes in Brereton's direction. "My 
father is as innocent as I am — find the man wh,o did 
it and clear him that way. Don 't wait for what these 
police people do — ^they'll waste time over my father. 
Do something! They're all on the wrong track — let 
somebody get on the right one!" 

' ' She 's right ! ' ' said Northrop, a shrewd-faced little 
man, who looked genuinely disturbed. "You know 
what police are, Mr. Bent — if they get hold of one 
notion they're deaf to all others. While they're con- 
centrating on Harborough, you know, the real man '11 
be going free — ^laughing in his sleeve, very like." 

"But— what are we to do?" asked Bent. "What 
are we to start on?" 

"Find out about Kitely himself!" exclaimed Avice. 
"Who knows anything about him? He may have 
had enemies — he may have been tracked here. Find 
out if there was any motive ! ' ' She paused and looked 
half appealingly, half-searchingly at Brereton. "I 
heard you're a barrister — a clever one," she went on, 
hesitating a little. "Can't — can't you suggest any- 
thing?" 

"There's something I'U suggest at once," re- 
sponded Brereton impulsively. "Whatever else is 



80 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

done, your father's got to be defended. I'll defend 
liim — to the best of my ability — if you'll let me — and 
at no cost to him." 

"Well spoken, sir!" exclaimed Northrop. "That's 
the style!" 

"But we must keep to legal etiquette," continued 
Brereton, smiling at the little man's enthusiasm. 
"You must go to a solicitor and tell him to instruct 
me — it 's a mere form. Mr. Bent will take you to his 
solicitor, and he'll see me. Then I can appear in due 
form when they bring your father before the magis- 
trates. Look here, Bent, ' ' he went on, wishing to stop 
any expression of gratitude from the girl, "you take 
Miss Harborough to your solicitor — if he isn't up, 
rouse him out. Tell him what I propose to do, and 
make an appointment with him for me. Now run 
along, both of you — I want to speak to this gentleman 
a minute." 

He took Northrop 's arm, turned him in the direc- 
tion of the Shawl, walked him a few paces, and then 
asked him a direct question. 

"Now, what do you know of this man Harbor- 
ough?" 

"He's a queer chap — a mystery man, sir," an- 
swered Northrop. "A sort of jack-of -all-trades. 
He's a better sort — ^you'd say, to hear him talk, he'd 
been a gentleman. You can see what his daughter 
is — he educated her well. He's means of some sort — 
apart from what he earns. Yes, there's some mys- 
tery about that man, sir — but I '11 never believe he did 
this job. No, sir!" 

"Then we must act on the daughter's suggestion 



RETAINED FOR THE DEFENCE 81 

and find out who did," observed Brereton. "There 
is as much mystery about that as about Harborough. ' ' 

* * All mystery, sir ! " agreed Northrop. " It 's odd — 
I came through them woods on the Shawl there about 
a quarter to ten last night: I'd been across to the 
other side to see a man of mine that's poorly in bed. 
Now, I never heard aught, never saw aught — but then, 
it's true I was hurrying — I'd made an appointment 
for a hand at whist with the Mayor at my house at 
ten o'clock, and I thought I was late. I never heard 
a sound — not so much as a dead twig snap ! But then, 
it would ha' been before that — at some time." 

''Yes, at some time," agreed Brereton. *'Well, — 
I'll see you in court, no doubt." 

He turned back, and followed Bent and Avice at 
a distance, watching them thoughtfully. 

"At some time?" he mused. "Um! Well, I'm 
now conversant with the movements of two inhabitants 
of Highmarket at a critical period of last night. Mal- 
lalieu didn't go to cards with Northrop until ten 
o'clock, and at ten o'clock Cotherstone returned to 
his house after being absent — one hour." 



CHAPTER IX 

ANTECEDENTS 

During tlie interval which elapsed between these 
early morning proceedings and the bringing up of 
Harborough before the borough magistrates in a 
densely-packed court, Brereton made up his mind as 
to what he would do. He would act on Avice Har- 
borough 's suggestion, and, while watching the trend 
of affairs on behalf of the suspected man, would find 
out all he could about the murdered one. At that 
moment — so far as Brereton knew — ^there was only 
one person in Highmarket who was likely to know 
anything about Kitely: that person, of course, was 
the queer-looking housekeeper. He accordingly de- 
termined, even at that early stage of the proceedings, 
to have Miss Pett in the witness-box. 

Harborough, who had been formally arrested and 
charged by the police after the conversation at the 
police-station, was not produced in court until eleven 
o'clock, by which time the whole town and neighbour- 
hood were astir with excitement. Somewhat to Brere- 
ton 's surprise, the prosecuting counsel, who had been 
hastily fetched from Noreaster and instructed on the 
way, went more fully into the case than was usual. 
Brereton had expected that the police would ask for 

82 



ANTECEDENTS 88 

an adjournment after the usual evidence of the su- 
perficial facts, and of the prisoner's arrest, had been 
offered; instead of that, the prosecution brought for- 
ward several witnesses, and amongst them the bank- 
manager, who said that when he cashed Kitely's draft 
for him the previous morning, in Harborough's pres- 
ence, he gave Kitely the one half of the money in gold. 
The significance of this evidence immediately tran- 
spired: a constable succeeded the bank-manager and 
testified that after searching the prisoner after his 
arrest he found on him over twenty pounds in sov- 
ereigns and half-sovereigns, pla/ied in a wash-leather 
bag. 

Brereton immediately recognized the impression 
which this evidence made. He saw that it weighed 
with the half-dozen solid and slow-thinking men who 
fiat on one side or the other of Mallalieu on the mag- 
isterial bench; he felt the atmosphere of suspicion 
which it engendered in the court. But he did noth- 
ing : he had already learned sufficient from Avice in a 
consultation with her and Bent's solicitor to know 
that it would be very easy to prove to a jury that it 
was no unusual thing for Harborough to carry twenty 
<Jr thirty pounds in gold on him. Of all these wit- 
nesses Brereton asked scarcely anything — but he made 
it clear that when Harborough was met near his cot- 
tage at daybreak that morning by two constables who 
informed him of what had happened, he expressed 
great astonishment, jeered at the notion that he had 
had anything to do with the murder, and, without 
going on to his own door, offered voluntarily to walk 
straight to the police-station. 



84* THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

But when Miss Pett — who had discarded her red 
and yellow turban, and appeared in rusty black gar- 
ments which accentuated the old-ivory tint of her 
remarkable countenance — had come into the witness- 
box and answered a few common-place questions as to 
the dead man's movements on the previous evening, 
Brereton prepared himself for the episode which he 
knew to be important. Amidst a deep silence — some- 
thing suggesting to everybody that Mr. Bent's sharp- 
looking London friend was about to get at things— 
he put his first question to Miss Pett. 

"How long have you known Mr. Kitely?" 

"Ever since I engaged with him as his house- 
keeper," answered Miss Pett. 

"How long since is that?" asked Brereton. 

"Nine to ten years — ^nearly ten." 

"You have been with him, as housekeeper, nearly 
ten years — continuously ? ' ' 

"Never left him since I first came to him." 

"Where did you first come to him — where did he 
live then?" 

"In London." 

"Yes — and. where, in London?" 

"83, Acacia Grove, Camberwell." 

"You lived with Mr. Kitely at 83, Acacia Grove, 
Camberwell, from the time you became his house- 
keeper until now — ^nearly ten years in all. So we 
may take it that you knew Mr. Kitely very well 
indeed?" 

"As well as anybody could know — ^him," replied 
Miss Pett, grimly. "He wasn't the sort that's easy 
to know." 



I 



ANTECEDENTS 85 

** Still, you knew him for ten years. Now," con- 
tinued Brereton, concentrating his gaze on Miss Pett 's 
curious features, "who and what was Mr. Kitely?" 

Miss Pett drummed her black-gloved fingers on 
the edge of the witness-box and shook her head. 

"I don't know," she answered. " I never have 
known. ' ' 

"But you must have some idea, some notion — after 
ten years' acquaintanceship ! Come now. What 
did he do with himself in London? Had he no 
business?" 

"He had business," said Miss Pett. "He was out 
most of the day at it. I don 't know what it was. ' ' 

"Never mentioned it to you?" 

"Never in his life." 

"Did you gain no idea of it? For instance, did 
it take him out at regular hours?" 

"No, it didn't. Sometimes he'd go out very early 
— sometimes late — some days he never went out at 
all. And sometimes he'd be out at night — and away 
for days together. I never asked him anything, of 
course. ' ' 

"Whatever it was, he retired from it eventually?" 

"Yes — just before we came here." 

* * Do you know why Mr. Kitely came here ? ' ' 

"Well," said Miss Pett, "he'd always said he 
wanted a nice little place in the country, and pref- 
erably in the North. He came up this way for a 
holiday some months since, and when he got back 
he said he'd found just the house and neighbourhood 
to suit him, so, of course, we removed here." 



Q6 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

"And you have been here — ^how long?" 

**Just over three months." 

Brereton let a moment or two elapse before he 
asked his next question, which was accompanied by 
another searching inspection of the witness. 

"Do you know anything about Mr. Kitely's rela- 
tions?" 

"No!" answered Miss Pett. "And for a simple 
reason. He always said he had none." 

"He was never visited by anybody claiming to be 
a relation?" 

"Not during the ten years I knew him." 

"Do you think he had property — money — ^to leave 
to anybody?" 

Miss Pett began to toy with the fur boa which de- 
pended from her thin neck. 

"Well — yes. he said he had," she replied hesita- 
tingly. 

"Did you ever hear him say what would become 
of it at his death?" 

Miss Pett looked round the court and smiled a 
little. 

"Well," she answered, still more hesitatingly, "he 
— he always said that as he'd no relations of his own, 
he'd leave it to me." 

Brereton leaned a little closer across the table to- 
wards the witness-box and dropped his voice. 

"Do you know if Mr. Kitely ever made a will?" 
he asked. 

"Yes," fepUed Miss Pett. "He did." 

"When?" 

"Just before we left London." 



ANTECEDENTS 87 

"Do you know the contents of that will?" 

"No!" said Miss Pett. ''I do not— so there!" 

"Did you witness it?" 

"No, I didn't." 

"Do you know where it is?" 

"Yes, I know that." 

"Where is it?" 

"My nephew has it," replied Miss Pett. "He's 
a solicitor, and he made it." 

"What is your nephew's name and address?" 
asked Brereton. 

"Mr. Christopher Pett, 23b Cursitor Street," 
answered Miss Pett, readily enough. 

"Have you let him know of Mr. Kitely's death?" 

"Yes. I sent him a telegram first thing this morn- 
ing." 

"Asking him to bring the will?" 

"No, I did not!" exclaimed Miss Pett, indignantly. 
"I never mentioned the will. Mr. Kitely was very 
fond of my nephew — ^he considered him a very clever 
young man." 

"We shall, no doubt, have the pleasure of seeing 
your nephew," remarked Brereton. "Well, now, I 
want to ask you a question or two about yourself. 
What had you been before you became housekeeper 
to Mr. Kitely?" 

"Housekeeper to another gentleman!" replied Miss 
Pett, acidly. 

"Who was he?" 

"Well, if you want to know, he was a Major Stil- 
man, a retired officer — though what that has " 

"Where did Major Stilman live?" asked Brereton. 



88 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

"He lived at Kandahar Cottage, Woking," replied 
Miss Pett, who was now showing signs of rising anger. 
*'But " 

"Answer my questions, if you please, and don't 
make remarks," said Brereton. "Is Major Stibnan 
alive?" 

"No, he isn't — ^he's dead this ten years," answered 
Miss Pett. "And if you're going to ask me any more 
questions about who and what I am, young man, I'll 
save you the trouble. I was with Major Stilman a 
many years, and before that I was store-keeper at one 
London hotel, and linen-keeper at another, and before 
that I lived at home with my father, who was a re- 
spectable farmer in Sussex. And what all this has to 
do with what we're here for, I should like " 

"Just give me the names of the two hotels you were 
at in London, will you?" asked Brereton. 

"One was the Boyal Belvedere in Bayswater, and 
the other the Mervyn Crescent in Kensington," re- 
plied Miss Pett. "Highly respectable, both of 'em." 

"And you come originally from — ^where in Sus- 
sex?" 

"Oakbarrow Farm, near Horsham. Do you want 
to know any " 

"I shan't trouble you much longer," said Brere- 
ton suavely. "But you might just teU me this — 
has Mr. Kitely ever had any visitors since he came 
to Highmarket?" 

* * Only one, ' ' answered Miss Pett. ' * And it was my 
nephew, who came up for a week-end to see him on 
business. Of course, I don't know what the business 



ANTECEDENTS 89 

was. Mr. Kitely liad property in London; house- 
property, and " 

"And your nephew, as his solicitor, no doubt came 
to see him about it," interrupted Brereton. "Thank 
you, Miss Pett — I don't want to trouble you any 
more. ' ' 

He sat down as the housekeeper left the witness- 
box — confident that he had succeeded in introducing 
a new atmosphere into the case. Already there were 
whisperings going on in the crowded court; he felt 
that these country folk, always quick to form sus^ 
picions, were beginning to ask themselves if there was 
not something dark and sinister behind the mystery 
of Kitely 's murder, and he was callous enough — from 
a purely professional standpoint — to care nothing if 
they began to form ideas about Miss Pett. For Brere- 
ton knew that nothing is so useful in the breaking- 
down of one prejudice as to set up another, and his 
great object just then was to divert primary preju- 
dice away from his client. Nevertheless, nothing, he 
knew well, could at that stage prevent Harborough's 
ultimate committal — unless Harborough himself chose 
to prove the alibi of which he had boasted. But Har- 
borough refused to do anything towards that, and 
when the case had been adjourned for a week, and the 
prisoner removed to a cell pending his removal to 
Noreaster gaol, a visit from Brereton and Avice in 
company failed to move him. 

"It's no good, my girl; it's no good, sir," he said, 
when both had pleaded with him to speak. "I'm de- 
termined! I shall not say where I was last night," 



90 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

* * Tell me — ^in secret — and then leave me to make use 
of the knowledge, also in secret," urged Brereton. 

"No, sir — once for all, no!" answered Harborough. 
''There's no necessity. I may be kept locked up 
for a bit, but the truth about this matter '11 come out 
before ever I'm brought to trial — or ought to be. 
Leave me alone — I'm all right. All that bothers me 
now, my girl, is — you!" 

''Then don't bother," said Avice. "I'm going to 
stay with Mrs. Northrop. They've insisted on it." 

Brereton was going out of the ceU, leaving father 
and daughter together, when he suddenly turned 
back. 

"You're a man of sense, Harborough," he said. 
"Come, now — ^have you got anything to suggest as to 
how you can be helped ? ' ' 

Harborough smiled and gave his counsel a know- 
ing look. 

"Aye, sir!" he answered. "The best suggestion 
you could get. If you want to find out who killed 
Kitely — go back! Go back, sir — go inch by inch, 
through Kitely 's life!" 



V, 



CHAPTER X 

THE HOLE IN THE THATCH 

Bent, taking his guest home to dinner after the- 
police-court proceedings, showed a strong and encour- 
aging curiosity. He, in common with all the rest of 
the townsfolk who had contrived to squeeze into the 
old court-house, had been immensely interested in Bre- 
reton's examination of Miss Pett. Now he wanted to 
know what it meant, what it signified, what was its 
true relation to the case ? 

"You don't mean to say that you suspect that queer 
old atomy of a woman!" he exclaimed incredulously 
as they sat down to Bent's bachelor table. **And 
yet — you really looked as if you did — and contrived 
to throw something very like it into your voice, too! 
Man, alive! — half the Highmarket wiseacres '11 be sit- 
ting down to their roast mutton at this minute in the 
full belief that Miss Pett strangled her master!" 

*'Well, and why not?" asked Brereton, coolly. 
** Surely, if you face facts, there's just as much reason 
to suspect Miss Pett as there is to suspect Harborough. 
They 're both as innocent as you are, in all probability. 
Granted there's some nasty evidence against Harbor- 
ough, there 's also the presumption — founded on words 
from her own lips — that Miss Pett expects to benefit 

91 



92 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

by this old man's death. She's a strong and wiry 
woman, and you tell me Kitely was getting some- 
what enfeebled — ^she might have killed him, you know. 
Murders, my dear fellow, are committed by the most 
unlikely people, and for curious reasons: they have 
been committed by quite respectable females — ^like 
Miss Pett — for nothing but a mere whim. ' ' 

*'Do you reaUy suspect her?" demanded Bent. 
"That's what I want to know." 

*' That's what I shan't tell you," replied Brereton, 
with a good-humoured laugh. "All I shall tell you is 
that I believe this murder to be either an exceedingly 
simple affair, or a very intricate affair. Wait a little 
— ^wait, for instance, until Mr. Christopher Pett ar- 
rives with that will. Then we shall advance a con- 
siderable stage." 

"I'm sorry for Avice Harborough, anyway," re- 
marked Bent, "and it's utterly beyond me to imagine 
why her father can't say where he was last night. 
I suppose there 'd be an end of the case if he'd prove 
where he was, eh?" 

"He'd have to account for every minute between 
nine and ten o'clock," answered Brereton. "It 
would be no good, for instance, if we proved to a jury 
that from say ten o'clock until five o'clock next morn- 
ing, Harborough was at — shall we say your county 
town, Norcaster. You may say it would take Har- 
borough an hour to get from here to Norcaster, and 
an hour to return, and that would account for his 
whereabouts between nine and ten last night, and 
between five and six this morning. That wouldn't 
do — because, according to the evidence, Kitely left Ms 



THE HOLE IN THE THATCH 93 

house just before nine o'clock, and he may have been 
killed immediately. Supposing Harborough killed 
him at nine, o'clock precisely, Harborough would even 
then be able to arrive in Norcaster by ten. What we 
want to know, in order to fully establish Harbor- 
ough 's innocence is — ^where was he, what was he do- 
ing, from the moment he left his cottage last night 
until say a quarter past nine, the latest moment at 
which, according to what the doctor said, the murder 
could have been committed?" 

"Off on one of his poaching expeditions, I sup- 
pose," said Bent. 

"No — that's not at all likely," answered Brere- 
ton, "There's some very strange mystery about that 
man, and I'll have to get at the truth of it — in spite 
of his determined reticence ! Bent ! — I 'm going to 
see this thing right through! The Norcaster Assizes 
will be on next month, and of course Harborough will 
be brought up then. I shall stop in this neighbour- 
hood and work out the case — it'll do me a lot of good 
in all sorts of ways — experience — ^work — the interest 
in it — and the kudos I shall win if I get my man off — 
as I will! So I shall unashamedly ask you to give 
me house-room for that time." 

"Of course," replied Bent. "The house is yours 
— only too glad, old chap. But what a queer case 
it is! I'd give something, you know, to know what 
you really think about it. ' * 

"I've not yet settled in my own mind what I do 
think about it," said Brereton. "But I'll suggest a 
few things to you which you can think over at your 
leisure. What motive could Harborough have had 



m THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

for killing Kitely? There's abundant testimony in 
the town — from his daughter, from neighbours, from 
tradesmen — ^that Harborough was never short of 
money — he's always had more money than most men 
in his position are supposed to have. Do you think 
it likely that he'd have killed Kitely for thirty 
pounds? Again — does anybody of sense believe that 
a man of Harborough 's evident ability would have 
murdered his victim so clumsily as to leave a direct 
clue behind him? Now turn to another side. Is it 
not evident that if Miss Pett wanted to murder Kitely 
fihe'd excellent chances of not only doing so, but of 
<3irecting suspicion to another person? She knew her 
master's habits — she knew the surroundings — she 
knew where Harborough kept that cord — she is the 
sort of person who could steal about as quietly as a 
cat. If — as may be established by the will which 
her nephew has, and of which, in spite of all she af- 
firmed, or, rather, swore, she may have accurate 
knowledge — she benefits by Kitely 's death, is there not 
motive there ? Clearly, Miss Pett is to be suspected ! ' ' 

"Do you mean to tell me that she'd kill old Kitely 
just to get possession of the bit he had to leave?" 
asked Bent incredulously. ''Come, now, — that's a 
stiff proposition." 

"Not to me," replied Brereton. "I've known of 
a case in which a young wife carefully murdered an 
old husband because she was so eager to get out of 
the dull life she led with him that she couldn't wait 
a year or two for his natural decease ; I 've heard of a 
case in which an elderly woman poisoned her twin- 
sister, so that she could inherit her share of an estate 



THE HOLE IN THE THATCH 96 

and go to live in style at Brighton. I don't want to 
do Miss Pett any injustice, but I say that there are 
grounds for suspecting her — and they may be wi- 
dened." 

"Then it comes to this," said Bent. "There are 
two people under suspicion: Harborough's suspected 
by the police — Miss Pett's suspected by you. And 
it may be, and probably is, the truth that both are 
entirely innocent. In that case, who's the guilty 
person?" 

"Ah, who indeed?" assented Brereton, half care- 
lessly. "That is a question. But my duty is to 
prove that my client is not guilty. And as you're 
going to attend to your business this afternoon, I'll 
do a little attending to mine by thinking things over. ' ' 

When Bent had gone away to the town, Brereton 
lighted a cigar, stretched himself in an easy chair in 
front of a warm fire in his host's smoking-room, and 
tried to think clearly. He had said to Bent all that 
was in his mind about Harborough and about Miss 
Pett — but he had said nothing, had been determined 
to say nothing, about a curious thought, an unformed, 
vague suspicion which was there. It was that as yet 
formless suspicion which occupied all his mental pow- 
ers now — he put Harborough and Miss Pett clean 
away from him. 

And as he sat there, he asked himself first of all 
— why had this curious doubt about two apparently 
highly-respectable men of this little, out-of-the-world 
town come into his mind? He traced it back to its 
first source — Cotherstone. Brereton was a close ob- 
server of men ; it was his natural instinct to observe, 



96 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

and he was always giving it a further training and 
development. He had felt certain as he sat at supper 
with him, the night before, that Cotherstone had 
something in his thoughts which was not of his guests, 
his daughter, or himself. His whole behaviour sug- 
gested pre-occupation, occasional absent-mindedness: 
once or twice he obviously did not hear the remarks 
which were addressed to him. He had certainly be- 
trayed some curious sort of confusion when Kitely's 
name was mentioned. And he had manifested great 
astonishment, been much upset, when Garthwaite 
came in with the news of Kitely's death. 

Now here came in what Brereton felt to be the 
all-important, the critical point of this, his first at- 
tempt to think things out. He was not at all sure 
that Cotherstone 's astonishment on hearing Garth- 
waite 's announcement was not feigned, was not a 
piece of pure acting. Why? He smiled cynically 
as he answered his own question. The answer was 
— Because when Cotherstone, Garthwaite, Bent, and 
Brereton set out from CotJier stone's hov^e to look at 
the dead man's body, Cotherstone led the way straight 
to it. 

How did Cotherstone know exactly where, in that 
half-mile of wooded hill-side, the murder had been 
committed of which he had only heard five minutes 
before. Yet, he led them all to within a few yards 
of the dead man, until he suddenly checked himself, 
thrust the lantern into Garthwaite 's hands and said 
that of course he didn't know where the body was! 
Now might not that really mean, when fully analyzed, 
that even if Cotherstone did not kill Kitely himself 



THE HOLE IN THE THATCH 97 

during the full hour in which he was absent from his 
house, he knew that Kitely had been killed, and 
where — and possibly by whom? 

Anyway, here were certain facts — and they had to 
be reckoned with. Kitely was murdered about a 
quarter-past nine o 'clock. Cotherstone was out of his 
house from ten minutes to nine o\lock until five min- 
utes to ten. He was clearly excited when he re- 
turned: he was more excited when he went with the 
rest of them up the wood. Was it not probable that 
under the stress of that excitement he forgot his pres- 
ence of mind, and mechanically went straight to the 
all-important spot? 

So much for that. But there was something more. 
Mallalieu was Cotherstone 's partner. Mallalieu went 
to Northrop 's house to play cards at ten o'clock. It 
might be well to find out, quietly, what Mallalieu was 
doing with himself up to ten o'clock. But the main 
thing was — ^what was Cotherstone doing during that 
hour of absence? And — had Cotherstone any reason 
— of his own, or shared with his partner — for wishing 
to get rid of Kitely? 

Brereton sat thinking all these things over until 
he had finished his cigar; he then left Bent's house 
and strolled up into the woods of the Shawl. He 
wanted to have a quiet look round the scene of the 
murder. He had not been up there since the previous 
evening; it now occurred to him that it would be 
well to see how the place looked by daylight. There 
was no difficulty about finding the exact spot, even 
in those close coverts of fir and pine; a thin line of 
inquisitive sightseers was threading its way up the 



98 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

Shawl in front of him, each of its units agog to see 
the place where a fellow-being had been done to death. 

But no one could get at the precise scene of the 
murder. The police had roped a portion of the cop- 
pice off from the rest, and two or three constables in 
uniform were acting as guards over this enclosed 
space, while a couple of men in plain clothes, whom 
Brereton by that time knew to be detectives from Nor- 
caster, were inside it, evidently searching the ground 
with great care. Round and about the fenced-in por- 
tion stood townsfolk, young and old, talking, specu- 
lating, keenly alive to the goings-on, hoping that the 
searchers would find something just then, so that they 
themselves could carry some sensational news back to 
the town and their own comfortable tea-tables. Most 
of them had been in or outside the Court House that 
morning and recognized Brereton and made way for 
him as he advanced to the ropes. One of the detec- 
tives recognized him, too, and invited him to step 
inside. 

''Found anything?" asked Brereton, who was se- 
cretly wondering why the police should be so foolish 
as to waste time in a search which was almost certain 
to be non-productive. 

**No, sir — ^we've been chiefly making out for cer- 
tain where the actual murder took place before the 
dead man was dragged behind that rock," answered 
the detective. "As far as we can reckon from the 
disturbance of these pine needles, the murderer must 
have sprung on Kitely from behind that clump of 
gorse — ^there where it's grown to such a height — and 
then dragged him here, away from that bit of a path. 



THE HOLE IN THE THATCH 99 

No — we've found nothing. But I suppose you've 
heard of the find at Harborough's cottage?" 

**No!" exclaimed Brereton, startled out of his 
habitual composure. "What find?" 

"Some of our people made a search there as soon 
as the police-court proceedings were over, ' ' replied the 
detective. "It was the first chance they'd had of 
doing anything systematically. They found the 
bank-notes which Kitely got at the Bank yesterday 
evening, and a quantity of letters and papers that we 
presume had been in that empty pocketbook. They 
were all hidden in a hole in the thatch of Harbor- 
ough's shed." 

"Where are they?" asked Brereton. 

"Down at the police-station — ^the superintendent 
has them, ' ' answered the detective. " He 'd show you 
them, sir, if you care to go down. ' ' 

Brereton went off to the police-station at once and 
was shown into the superintendent's office without 
delay. That official immediately drew open a drawer 
of his desk and produced a packet folded in brown 
paper. 

* ' I suppose this is what you want to see, Mr. Brere- 
ton," he said. "I guess you've heard about the dis- 
covery? Shoved away in a rat-hole in the thatch of 
Harborough's shed these were, sir — upou'^my honour, 
I don't know what to make of it! You'd have 
thought that a man of Harborough 's sense and clever- 
ness would never have put these things there, where 
they were certain to be found. ' ' 

"I don't believe Harborough did put them there," 
said Brereton. "But what are they?" 



100 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

The superintendent motioned his visitor to sit by 
him and then opened the papers out on his desk. 

"Not so much," he answered. "Three five-pound 
notes — I've proved that they're those which poor 
Kitely got at the bank yesterday. A number of let- 
ters — chiefly about old books, antiquarian matters, and 
so forth — some scraps of newspaper cuttings, of the 
same nature. And this bit of a memorandum book, 
that fits that empty pocketbook we found, with pencil 
entries in it — ^naught of any importance. Look 'em 
over, if you like, Mr. Brereton. I make nothing out 
of 'em." 

Brereton made nothing out either, at first glance. 
The papers were just what the superintendent de- 
scribed them to be, and he went rapidly through them 
without finding anything particularly worthy of 
notice. But to the little memorandum book he gave 
more attention, especially to the recent entries. And 
one of these, made within the last three months, struck 
him as soon as he looked at it, insignificant as it 
seemed to be. It was only of one line, and the one 
line was only of a few initials, an abbreviation or two, 
and a date r M. & C. v. 8. B. cir. 81. And why this 
apparently innocent entry struck Brereton was be- 
cause he was still thinking as an under-current to all 
this, of Mallalieu and Cotherstone — and M. and C. 
were certainly the initials of those not too common 
names. 



CHAPTER XI 

CHRISTOPHER PETT 

The two men sat staring silently at the paper-strewn 
desk for several moments ; each occupied with his own 
thoughts. At last the superintendent began to put 
the several exhibits together, and he turned to Brere- 
ton with a gesture which suggested a certain amount 
of mental impatience. 

"There's one thing in all this that I can't under- 
stand, sir," he said. **And it's this — it's very evi- 
dent that whoever killed Kitely wanted the papers 
that Kitely carried in that pocket-book. Why did 
he take 'em out of the pocket-book and throw the 
pocket-book away? I don't know how that strikes 
you — ^but it licks me, altogether ! ' ' 

"Yes," agreed Brereton, "it's puzzling — certainly. 
You'd think that the murderer would have carried off 
the pocket-book, there and then. That he took the 
papers from it, threw the pocket-book itself away, 
and then placed the papers — or some of them — where 
your people have just found them — in Harborough's 
shed — seems to me to argue something which is even 
more puzzling. I daresay you see what I mean?" 

"Can't say that I do, sir," answered the super- 
intendent. "I haven't had much experience in this 

lOI 



102 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

sort of work, you know, Mr, Brereton — it's a good 
bit off our usual line. What do you mean, then?" 

"Why," replied Brereton, laughing a little, "I 
mean this — ^it looks as if the murderer had taken his 
time about his proceedings! — after Kitely was killed. 
The pocket-book, as you know, was picked up close 
to the body. It was empty — as we all saw. Now 
what can we infer from that but that the murderer 
actually stopped by his victim to examine the papers ? 
And in that case he must have had a light. He may 
have carried an electric torch. Let's try and recon- 
struct the affair. We'll suppose that the murderer, 
whoever he was, was so anxious to find some paper 
that he wanted, and that he believed Kitely to have 
on him, that he immediately examined the contents 
of the pocket-book. He turned on his electric torch 
and took all the papers out of the pocket-book, laying 
the pocket-book aside. He was looking through the 
papers when he heard a sound in the neighbouring 
coppices or bushes. He immediately turned off his 
light, made o&. with the papers, and left the empty 
case — possibly completely forgetting its existence for 
the moment. How does that strike you — as a 
theory?" 

"Very good, sir," replied the superintendent. 
"Very good — ^but it is only a theory, you know, Mr. 
Brereton. ' ' 

Brereton rose, with another laugh. 

"Just so, he said. "But suppose you try to re- 
duce it to practice ? In this way — ^you no doubt have 
tradesmen in this town who deal in such things as 
electric torches. Find out — in absolute secrecy — if 



CHRISTOPHER PETT 103 

any of them have sold electric torches of late to any 
one in the town, and if so, to whom. For I'm cer- 
tain of this — that pocket-book and its contents was 
examined on the spot, and that examination could 
only have been made with a light, and an electric 
torch would be the handiest means of providing that 
light. And so — so you see how even a little clue like 
that might help, eh?" 

''I'll see to it," assented the superintendent. 
"WeU, it's all very queer, sir, and I'm getting more 
than ever convinced that we've laid hands on the 
wrong man. And yet — ^what could, and what can we 
do?" 

"Oh, nothing, at present," replied Brereton. 
"Let matters develop. They're only beginning." 

He went away then, not to think about the last 
subject of conversation, but to take out his own pocket- 
book as soon as he was clear of the police-station, 
and to write down that entry which he had seen in 
Kitely's memoranda: — M. <& C. v. 8. B. cir. 81. And 
again he was struck by the fact that the initials were 
those of Mallalieu and Cotherstone, and again he won- 
dered what they meant. They might have no refer- 
ence whatever to the Mayor and his partner — but un- 
der the circumstances it was at any rate a curious co- 
incidence, and he had an overwhelming intuition that 
something lay behind that entry. But — what? 

That evening, as Bent and his guest were lighting 
their cigars after dinner, Bent's parlour-maid came 
into the smoking-room with a card. Bent glanced 
from it to Brereton with a look of surprise. 

* * Mr. Christopher Pett 1 " he exclaimed. * * What odl 



104. THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

earth does he want me for? Bring Mr. Pett in here, 
anyway," he continued, turning to the parlour-maid. 
"Is he alone? — or is Miss Pett with him?" 

**The police-superintendent's with him, sir," an- 
swered the girl. "They said — could they see you 
and Mr. Brereton for half an hour, on business?" 

"Bring them both in, then," said Bent. He looked 
at Brereton again, with more interrogation. "Fresh 
stuff, eh?" he went on. "Mr. Christopher Pett's the 
old dragon's nephew, I suppose. But what can he 
want with — oh, .well, I guess he wants you — I'm the 
audience." 

Brereton made no reply. He was watching the 
door. And through it presently came a figure and 
face which he at once recognized as those of an under- 
sized, common-looking, sly-faced little man whom he 
had often seen about the Law Courts in London, and 
had taken for a solicitor's clerk. He looked just as 
common and sly as ever as he sidled into the smoking- 
room, removing his silk hat with one hand and de- 
positing a brief bag on the table with the other, and 
he favoured Brereton with a sickly grin of recogni- 
tion after he had made a bow to the master of the 
house. That done he rubbed together two long and 
very thin white hands and smiled at Brereton once 
more. 

"Good-evening, Mr. Brereton," he said in a thin, 
wheedling voice. "I've no doubt you've seen me be- 
fore, sir? — ^I've seen you often — round about the 
Courts, Mr. Brereton — though I've never had the 
pleasure of putting business in your way — as yet, Mr. 
Brereton, as yet, sir! But " 



CHRISTOPHER PETT 105 

Brereton, to whom Bent had transferred Mr. Chris- 
topher Pett's card, glanced again at it, and from it to 
its owner. 

"I see your address is that of Messrs. Popham & 
Pilboody in Cursitor Street, Mr. Pett," he observed 
frigidly. "Any connection with that well-known 
firm?" 

Mr. Pett rubbed his hands, and taking the chair 
which Bent silently indicated, sat down and pulled 
Ms trousers up about a pair of bony knees. He smiled 
widely, showing a set of curiously shaped teeth. 

"Mr. Popham, sir," he answered softly, "has al- 
ways been my very good friend. I entered Mr. Pop- 
ham's service, sir, at an early age. Mr. Popham, sir, 
acted very handsomely by me. He gave me my ar- 
ticles, sir. And when I was admitted — ^two years 
ago, Mr. Brereton — Messrs. Popham & Pilboody gave 
me — very generously — an office in their suite, so that 
I could have my name up, and do a bit on my own, 
sir. Oh yes! — I'm connected — ^intimately — with that 
famous firm, Mr. Brereton!" 

There was an assurance about Mr. Pett, a cock- 
sureness of demeanour, a cheerful confidence in him- 
self, which made Brereton long to kick him; but he 
restrained his feelings and said coldly that he sup- 
posed Mr. Pett wished to speak to Mr. Bent and him- 
self on business. 

"Not on my own business, sir," replied Pett, lay- 
ing his queer-looking white fingers on his brief bag. 
"On the business of my esteemed feminine relative, 
Miss Pett. I am informed, Mr. Brereton — no offence, 
sir, oh, none whatever ! — ^that you put some — no doubt 



106 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

necessary — questions to Miss Pett at the court this 
morning which had the effect of prejudicing her in 
the eyes — or shall we say ears? — of those who were 
present. Miss Pett accordingly desires that I, as her 
legal representative, should lose no time in putting 
before you the true state of the case as regards her 
relations with Kitely, deceased, and I accordingly, sir, 
in the presence of our friend, the superintendent, 
whom I have already spoken to outside, desire to tell 
you what the truth is. Informally, you understand, 
Mr. Brereton, informally ! ' ' 

"Just as you please," answered Brereton. "All 
this is, as you say, informal" 

"Quite informal, sir," agreed Pett, who gained in 
cheerfulness with every word. "Oh, absolutely so. 
Between ourselves, of course. But it'll be all the 
pleasanter if you know. My aunt, Miss Pett, natu- 
rally does not wish, Mr. Brereton, that any person — 
hereabouts or elsewhere — should entertain such sus- 
picions of her as you seemed — I speak, sir, from in- 
formation furnished — to suggest, in your examina- 
tion of her today. And so, sir, I wish to tell you 
this. I acted as legal adviser to the late Mr. Kitely. 
I made his will. I have that will in this bag. And 
— ^to put matters in a nutshell, Mr. Brereton — ^there 
is not a living soul in this world who knows the con- 
tents of that will but — ^your humble and obedient!" 

"Do you propose to communicate the contents of 
the late Mr. Kitely 's will to us?" asked Brereton, 
drily. 

"I do, sir," replied Mr. Pett. "And for this rea- 
son. My relative — Miss Pett — does not know what 



CHRISTOPHER PETT 107 

Mr. Kitely's profession had been, nor what Mr. 
Kitely died possessed of. She does not know — any- 
thing! And she will not know until I read this will 
to her after I have communicated the gist of it to you. 
And I will do that in a few words. The late Mr. 
Kitely, sir, was an ex-member of the detective police 
force. By dint of economy and thrift he had got to- 
gether a nice little property — ^house-property, in Lon- 
don — Brixton, to be exact. It is worth about one hun- 
dred and fifty pounds per annum. And — to cut mat- 
ters short — he has left it absolutely to Miss Pett. I 
myself, Mr. Brereton, am sole executor. If you desire 
to see the will, sir, you, or Mr. Bent, or the superin- 
tendent, are at liberty to inspect it." 

Brereton waved the proifered document aside and 
got up from his chair. 

"No, thank you, Mr. Pett," he said. "I've no de- 
sire to see Mr. Kitely 's will. I quite accept all that 
you say about it. You, as a lawyer, know very well 
that whatever I asked Misa Pett this morning was 
asked in the interests of my client. No — ^you can 
put the will away as far as I'm concerned. You've 
assured me that Miss Pett is as yet in ignorance of 
its contents, and — I take your word. I think, how- 
ever, that Miss Pett won't be exactly surprised." 

*'0h, I daresay my aunt has a pretty good idea, 
Mr. Brereton," agreed Pett, who having offered the 
will to both Bent and the superintendent, only to meet 
with a polite refusal from each, now put it back in 
his bag. "We all of us have some little idea which 
quarter the wind's in, you know, sir, in these cases. 
Of course, Kitely, deceased, had no relatives, Mr. 



108 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

Brereton: in fact, so far as Miss Pett and self are 
aware, beyond ourselves, he'd no friends." 

* ' I was going to ask you a somewhat pertinent ques- 
tion, Mr. Pett," said Brereton. "Quite an informal 
one, you know. Do you think he had any enemies ? ' ' 

Pett put his long white fingers together and in- 
clined his head to one side. His slit of a mouth op- 
ened slightly, and his queer teeth showed themselves 
in a sly grin. 

"Just so!" he said "Of course, I take your 
meaning, Mr. Brereton. Naturally, you'd think that 
a man of his profession would make enemies. No 
doubt there must be a good many persons who'd 
have been glad — had he still been alive — to have had 
their knives into him. Oh, yes! But — unfortu- 
nately, I don 't know of 'em, sir. ' ' 

"Never heard him speak of anybody who was likely 
to cherish revenge, eh?" asked Brereton, 

"Never, sir! Kitely, deceased," remarked Pett, 
meditatively, "was not given to talking of his pro- 
fessional achievements. I happen to know that he 
was concerned in some important cases in his time — 
but he rarely, if ever, mentioned them to me. In fact, 
I may say, gentlemen," he continued in a palpable 
burst of confidence, "I may say, between ourselves, 
that I 'd had the honour of Mr. K. 's acquaintance for 
some time before ever I knew what his line of business 
had been! Fact!" 

"A close man, eh?" asked Brereton. 

"One of the very closest," replied Pett. "Yes, 
you may say that, sir." 



CHRISTOPHER PETT 109 

**Not likely to let things out, I suppose?" con- 
tinued Brereton. 

**Not he! He was a regular old steel trap, Kitely 
was — shut tight!" said Pett. 

"And — I suppose you've no theory, no idea of 
your own about his murder?" asked Brereton, who 
was watching the little man closely. ''Have you 
formed any ideas or theories?" 

Pett half -closed his eyes as he turned them on his 
questioner. 

* ' Too early ! " he replied, with a shake of his head. 
* * Much too early. I shall — in due course. Meantime, 
there's another little commission I have to discharge, 
and I may as well do it at once. There are two or 
three trifling bequests in this will, gentlemen — one 
of 'em's to you, Mr. Bent. It wasn't in the original 
will — that was made before Kitely came to these parts. 
It 's in a codicil — made when I came down here a few 
weeks ago, on the only visit I ever paid to the old 
gentleman. He desired, in case of his death, to leave 
you something — said you'd been very friendly to 
him." 

"Very good of him, I'm sure," said Bent with a 
glance of surprise. "I'm rather astonished to hear 
of it, though." 

"Oh, it's nothing much," remarked Pett, with a 
laugh as he drew from the brief bag what looked like 
an old quarto account book, fastened by a brass clasp. 
"It's a scrap-book that the old man kept — a sort of 
album in which he pasted up all sorts of odds and 
ends. He thought you'd find 'em interesting. And 



110 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

knowing of this bequest, sir, I thought I'd bring the 
book down. You might just give me a formal receipt 
for its delivery, Mr. Bent." 

Bent took his curious legacy and led Mr. Pett away 
to a writing-desk to dictate a former of receipt. And 
as they turned away, the superintendent signed to 
Brereton to step into a comer of the room with him. 

' ' You know what you said about that electric torch 
notion this afternoon, sir?" he whispered. "Well, 
after you left me, i just made an inquiry — absolutely 
secret, you know — myself. I went to Kellit, the iron- 
monger — I knew that if such things had ever come 
into the town, it 'ud be through him, for he 's the only 
man that's at all up-to-date. And — I heard more 
than I expected to hear!" 

''What?" asked Brereton. 

"I think there may be something in what you 
said," answered the superintendent. "But, listen 
here — Rellit says he'd swear a solemn oath that no- 
body but himself ever sold an electric torch ia High- 
market. And he's only sold to three persons — to the 
Vicar's sonj to Mr. Mallalieuj and to Jack Har- 
borough!" 



CHAPTER Xn 

PARENTAL ANXIETY 

For a moment Brereton and the superintendent 
looked at each other in silencd Then Bent got up 
from his desk at the other sid^ of the room, and he 
and the little solicitor came towards them. 

"Keep that to yourself, then," muttered Brereton. 
* 'We'll talk of it later. It may be of importance." 

**Well, there's this much to bear in mind," whis- 
pered the superintendent, drawing back a little with 
an eye on the others. * ' Nothing of that sort was 
found on your client! And he'd been out all night. 
That's worth considering — from his standpoint, Mr. 
Brereton. ' ' 

Brereton nodded his assent and turned away with 
another warning glance. And presently Pett and the 
superintendent went off, and Bent dropped into his 
easy chair with a laugh. 

"Queer sort of unexpected legacy!" he said. "I 
wonder if the old man really thought I should be in- 
terested in his scrap-book?" 

"There may be a great deal that's interesting in 
it," remarked Brereton, with a glance at the book, 
which Bent had laid aside on top of a book-case. 

Ill 



112 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

**Take care of it. Well, what did you think of Mr. 
Christopher Pett?" 

"Cool hand, I should say," answered Bent. "But 
— ^what did you think of him?" 

"Oh, I've met Mr. Christopher Pett's sort before," 
said Brereton, drily. "The Dodson & Fogg type of 
legal practitioner is by no means extinct. I should 
much like to know a good deal more about his various 
dealings with Kitely. "We shall see and hear more 
about them, however — later on. For the present 
there are — other matters. ' ' 

He changed the subject then — to something utterly 
apart from the murder and its mystery. For the one 
topic which filled his own mind was also the very 
one which he could not discuss with Bent. Had Coth- 
erstone, had Mallalieu anything to do with Kitely 's 
death? That question was beginning to engross all 
his attention: he thought more about it than about 
his schemes for a successful defence of Harborough, 
well knowing that his best way of proving Harbor- 
ough 's innocence lay in establishing another man's 
guilt. 

"One would give a good deal," he said to himself, 
as he went to bed that night, "if one could get a 
moment's look into Cotherstone 's mind — or into Mal- 
lalieu 's either! For I'll swear that these two know 
something — possibly congratulating themselves that it 
will never be known to anybody else ! ' ' 

If Brereton could have looked into the minds of 
either of the partners at this particular juncture he 
would have found much opportunity for thought and 
reflection, of a curious nature. For both were keep- 



PARENTAL ANXIETY 113" 

ing a double watch — on the course of events on one 
hand; on each other, on the other hand. They 
watched the police-court proceedings against Harbor- 
ough and saw, with infinite relief, that nothing tran- 
spired which seemed inimical to themselves. They 
watched the proceedings at the inquest held on Kitely ; 
they, too, yielded nothing that could attract attention 
in the way they dreaded. When several days had 
gone by and the police investigations seemed to have 
settled down into a concentrated purpose against the 
suspected man, both Mallalieu and Cotherstone be- 
lieved themselves safe from discovery — ^their joint 
secret appeared to be well buried with the old detec- 
tive. But the secret was keenly and vividly alive in 
their own hearts, and when Mallalieu faced the truth 
he knew that he suspected Cotherstone, and when 
Cotherstone put things squarely to himself he knew 
that he suspected Mallalieu. And the two men got 
to eyeing each other furtively, and to addressing each 
other curtly, and when they happened to be alone 
there was a heavy atmosphere of mutual dislike and 
suspicion between them. 

It was a strange psychological fact that though 
these men had been partners for a period covering 
the most important part of their lives, they had next 
to nothing in common. They were excellent partners 
in business matters ; Mallalieu knew Cotherstone, and 
Cotherstone knew Mallalieu in all things relating to 
the making of money. But in taste, temperament, 
character, understanding, they were as far apart as 
the poles. This aloofness when tested further by the 
recent discomposing events manifested itself in a dis- 



114f THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

inclination to confidence. Mallalieu, whatever he 
thought, knew very well that he would never say what 
he thought to Cotherstone ; Cotherstone knew precisely 
the same thing with regard to Mallalieu. But this 
silence bred irritation, and as the days went by the 
irritation became more than Cotherstone could bear. 
He was a highly-strung, nervous man, quick to feel 
and to appreciate, and the averted looks and monosyl- 
labic remarks and replies of a man into whose com- 
pany he could not avoid being thrown began to sting 
him to something like madness. And one day, left 
alone in the office with Mallalieu when Stoner the 
clerk had gone to get his dinner, the irritation be- 
came unbearable, and he turned on his partner in a 
sudden white heat of ungovernable and impotent 
anger. 

**Hang you!" he hissed between his set teeth. "I 
believe you think I did that job! And if you do, 
blast you, why don't you say so, and be done with it ?" 

Mallalieu, who was standing on the hearth, warm- 
ing his broad back at the fire, thrust his hands deeply 
into his pockets and looked half-sneeringly at his part- 
ner out of his serewed-up eyes. 

"I should advise you to keep yourself cool," he 
said with affected quietness. "There's more than 
me'll think a good deal if you chance to let yourself 
out like that." 

"You do think it!" reiterated Cotherstone passion- 
ately. "Damn it, d'ye think I haven't noticed it! 
Always looking at me as if — as if " 

"Now then, keep yourself calm," interrupted Mal- 
lalieu. "I can look at you or at any other, in any 



PARENTAL ANXIETY 115 

way I like, can't I ? There's no need to distress your- 
self — I shan't give aught away. If you took it in 
your head to settle matters — as they were settled — 
well, I shan't say a word. That is unless — you un- 
derstand?" 

** Understand what?" screamed Cotherstone. 

** Unless I'm obliged to," answered Mallalieu. "I 
should have to make it clear that I'd naught to do 
with that particular matter, d'ye see? Every man 
for himself 's a sound principle. But — I see no need. 
I don't believe there'll be any need. And it doesn't 
matter the value of that pen that 's shaking so in your 
hand to me if an innocent man suffers — if he's inno- 
cent o* that, he's guilty o' something else. You're 
safe with me." 

Cotherstone flung the pen on the floor and stamped 
on it. And MaUalieu laughed cynically and walked 
slowly across to the door. 

''You're a fool, Cotherstone," he said. "Go on a 
bit more like that, and you'll let it all out to some- 
body 'at '11 not keep secrets as I can. Cool yourself, 
man, cool yourself!" 

"Hang you!" shouted Cotherstone. "Mind I 
don't let something out about you! Where were you 
that night, I should like to know? Or, rather, I do 
know! You're no safer than I am! And if I told 
what I do know " 

Mallalieu, with his hand on the latch, turned and 
looked his partner in the face — without furtiveness, 
for once. 

"And if you told aught that you do, or fancy you 
know," he said quietly, " there 'd be ruin in your 



116 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

home, you soft fool! I thought you wanted things 
kept quiet for your lass's sake? Pshaw ! — you're tak- 
ing leave o' your senses!" 

He walked out at that, and Cotherstone, shaking 
with anger, relapsed into a chair and cursed his fate. 
And after a time he recovered himself and began to 
think, and his thoughts turned instinctively to Lettie. 

Mallalieu was right — of course, he was right ! Any- 
thing that he, Cotherstone, could say or do in the 
way of bringing up the things that must be sup- 
pressed would ruin Lettie 's chances. So, at any rate, 
it seemed to him. For Cotherstone 's mind was es- 
sentially a worldly one, and it was beyond him to 
believe that an ambitious young man like Windle 
Bent would care to ally himself with the daughter of 
an ex-convict. Bent would have the best of excuses 
for breaking off all relations with the Cotherstone 
family if the unpleasant truth came out. No ! — what- 
ever else he did, he must keep his secret safe until 
Bent and Lettie were safely married. That once ac- 
complished, Cotherstone cared little about the future : 
Bent could not go back on his wife. And so Cother- 
stone endeavoured to calm himself, so that he could 
scheme and plot, and before night came he paid a 
visit to his doctor, and when he went home that even- 
ing, he had his plans laid. 

Bent was with Lettie when Cotherstone got home, 
and Cotherstone presently got the two of them into 
a little snuggery which he kept sacred to himself as 
a rule. He sat down in his easy chair, and signed to 
them to sit near him. 

"I'm glad I found you together," he said. 



PARENTAL ANXIETY 117 

"There's something I want to say. There's no call 
for you to be frightened, Lettie — ^but what I've got 
to say is serious. And I'll put it straight — Bent '11 
understand. Now, you'd arranged to get married 
next spring — six months hence. I want you to change 
your minds, and to let it be as soon as you can. ' ' 

He looked with a certain eager wistfulness at Lettie, 
expecting to see her start with surprise. But fond as 
he was of her, Cotherstone had so far failed to grasp 
the later developments of his daughter's character. 
Lettie Cotherstone was not the sort of young woman 
who allows herself to be surprised by anything. She 
was remarkably level-headed, cool of thought, well 
able to take care of herself in every way, and fully 
alive to the possibilities of her union with the rising 
young manufacturer. .And instead of showing any 
astonishment, she quietly asked her father what he 
meant. 

''I'll tell you," answered Cotherstone, greatly re- 
lieved to find that both seemed inclined to talk mat- 
ters quietly over. " It 's this — I 've not been f eeUng as 
well as I ought to feel, lately. The fact is. Bent, 
I've done too much in my time. A man can work 
too hard, you know — and it teUs on him in the end. 
So the doctor says, anyhow." 

"The doctor!" exclaimed Lettie. "You haven't 
been to him?" 

"Seen him this afternoon," replied Cotherstone. 
"Don't alarm yourself. But that's what he says — 
naught wrong, all sound, but — it's time I rested. 
Rest and change — complete change. And I've made 
up my mind — I'm going to retire from business. 



118 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

Why not? I'm a well-to-do man — ^better off than 
most folks 'ud think. I shall tell Mallalieu tanorrow. 
Yes — I'm resolved on it. And that done, I shall go 
and travel for a year or two — I've always wanted to 
go round the world. I'll go — that for a start, any- 
way. And thie sooner the better, says the doctor. 
And " here he looked searehingly at his listen- 
ers — ' ' I 'd like to see you settled before I go. "What ? ' ' 

Lettie's calm and judicial character came out in 
the first words she spoke. She had listened care- 
fully to Cotherstone; now she turned to Bent. 

'*Windle," she said, as quietly as if she were ask- 
ing the most casual of questions, ''wouldn't it upset 
all your arrangements for next year? You see, fa- 
ther," she went on, turning to Cotherstone, "Windle 
had arranged everything. He was going to have the 
whole of the spring and summer away from business ; 
we were going on the Continent for six months. And 
that would have to be entirely altered and " 

*'We could alter it," interrupted Bent. He was 
watching Cotherstone closely, and fancying that he 
saw a strained and eager look in his face, he decided 
that Cotherstone was keeping something back, and 
had not told them the full truth about his health. 

"It's all a matter of arrangement. I could ar- 
range to go away during the winter, Lettie." 

"But I don't want to travel in winter," objected 
Lettie. "Besides — I've made all my arrangements 
about my gowns and things." 

"That can be arranged, too," said Bent. "The 
dressmaker can work overtime.'"' 

"That'll mean that everything will be hurried — 



PARENTAL ANXIETY 119 

and spoiled," replied Lettie. "Besides, I've ar- 
ranged everything with, my bridesmaids. They can't 
be expected to " 

"We can do without bridesmaids," replied Bent^ 
laying his hand on Lettie 's arm. "If your father 
really feels that he's got to have the rest and the 
change he spoke of, and wants us to be married first, 
why, then " 

"But there's nothing to prevent you having a rest 
and a change now, father," said Lettie. "Why not? 
I don't like my arrangements to be altered — I had 
planned everything out so carefully. When we did 
fix on next spring, Windle, I had only just time as it 
was!" 

"Pooh!" said Bent. "We could get married the 
day after tomorrow if we wanted! Bridesmaids — 
gowns — all that sort of tomfoolery, what does it mat- 
ter?" 

"It isn't tomfoolery," retorted Lettie. "If I am 
to be married I should like to be married properly." 

She got up, with a heightened colour and a little 
toss of her head, and left the room, and the two men 
looked at each other. 

"Talk to her, my lad," said Cotherstone at last. 
"Of course, girls think such a lot of — of all the ac- 
companiments, eh?" 

"Yes, yes — ^it'Il be all right," replied Bent. He 
tapped Cotherstone 's arm and gave him a searching 
look. "You're not keeping anything back — about 
your health, are you?" he asked. 

Cotherstone glanced at the door and sank his voice 
to a whisper. 



120 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

"It's my heart!" he answered. ** Over-strained — 
much over-strained, the doctor says. Rest and change 
— ^imperative! But — not a word to Lettie, Bent. 
Talk hep round — get it arranged. I shall feel safer 
— ^you understand?"- 

Bent was full of good nature, and though he un- 
derstood to the full — it was a natural thing, this 
anxiety of a father for his only child. He promised 
to talk seriously to Lettie at once about an early wed- 
ding. And that night he told Brereton of what had 
happened, and asked him if he knew how special 
licences can be got, and Brereton informed him of all 
he knew on that point — and kept silence about one 
which to him was becoming deeply and seriously im- 
portant. 



CHAPTER Xm 

THE ANONYMOUS LETTER 

"Within a week of that night Brei'eton was able to 
sum things up, to take stock, to put clearly before him- 
self the position of affairs as they related to his mys- 
terious client. They had by that time come to a clear 
issue: a straight course lay ahead with its ultimate 
stages veiled in obscurity. Harborough had again 
been brought up before the Highmarket magistrates, 
had stubbornly refused ta give any definite informa- 
tion about his exact doings on the night of Kitely'a 
murder, and had been duly committed for trial on the 
capital charge. On the same day the coroner, after 
holding an inquest extending over two sittings, had 
similarly committed him. There was now nothing to 
do but to wait until the case came on at Norcaster 
Assizes. Fortunately, the assizes were fixed for the 
middle of the ensuing month: Brereton accordingly 
had three weeks wherein to prepare his defence — or 
(which would be an eminently satisfactory equivalent) 
to definitely fix the guilt on some other person. 

Christopher Pett, as legal adviser to the murdered 
man, had felt it his duty to remain in Highmarket 
until the police proceedings and the coroner's inquest 
were over. He had made himself conspicuous at both 

121 



122 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

police-court and coroner's court, putting himself for- 
ward wherever he could, asking questions wherever 
opportunity offered. Brei*eton's dislike of him in- 
creased the more he saw of Jiim ; he specially resented 
Pett's familiarity. But Pett was one of those per- 
sons who know how to combine familiarity with po- 
liteness and even servility; to watch or hear him talk 
to any one whom he button-holed was to gain a notion 
of his veneration for them. He might have been wor- 
shipping Brereton when he buttoned-holed the young 
barrister after Harborough had been finally com- 
mitted to take his trial. 

"Ah, he's a lucky man, that, Mr. Brereton!" ob- 
served Pett, collaring Brerfeton in a corridor outside 
the crowded court. * ' Very fortunate man indeed, sir, 
to have you take so much interest in him. Fancy you 
— with all your opportunities in town, Mr. Brereton ! 
— stopping down here, just to defend that fellow out 
of — what shall we call it? — pure and simple Quixot- 
ism! Quixotism! — I believe that's the correct term, 
Mr. Brereton. Oh, yes — for the man 's as good as done 
for. Not a cat's chance! He'll swing, sir, will your 
client!" 

"Your simile is not a good one, Mr. Pett," retorted 
Brereton. **Cats are said to have nine lives." 

"Cat, rat, mouse, dog — no chance whatever, sir," 
said Pett, cheerfully. "I know what a country 
jury '11 say. 11 I were a betting man, Mr. Brereton 
— which I ain't, being a regular church attendant — 
I'd lay you ten to one the jury '11 never leave the 
box, sir!" 



THE ANONYMOUS LETTER 123 

"No — I don't think they will — when the right man 
is put in the dock, Mr. Pett," replied Brereton. 

Pett drew back and looked the young barrister in 
the face with an expression that was half quizzical 
and half serious. 

"You don't mean to say that you really believe this 
fellow to be innocent, Mr, Brereton?" he exclaimed. 
''You! — with your knowledge of criminal proceed- 
ings! Oh, come now, Mr. Brereton — it's very kind of 
you, very Quixotic, as I call it, but " 

"You shaU see," said Brereton and turned off. 
He had no mind to be more .than civil to Pett, and 
he frowned when Pett, in his eagerness, laid a detain- 
ing hand on his gown. "I'm not going to discuss it, 
Mr. Pett," he added, a little warmly. "I've my own 
view of the case." 

"But, but, Mr. Brereton — a moment!" urged Pett. 
"Just between ourselves as — well, not as lawyers but 
as — as one gentleman to another. Do you think it 
possible it was some other person? Do you now, 
really?" 

"Didn't your estimable female relative, as you call 
her, say that I suggested she might be the guilty 
person?" demanded Brereton, maliciously. "Come, 
now, Mr. Pett ! You don't know all that I know !" 

Pett fell back, staring doubtfully at Brereton 's 
curled lip, and wondering whether to take him se- 
riously or not. And Brereton laughed and went off — 
to reflect, five minutes later, that this was no laughing 
matter for Harborough and his daughter, and to 
plunge again into the maze of thought dut of which 



If 



124 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

it was so difficult to drag anything that seemed likely 
to be helpful. 

He interviewed Harborough again before he was 
taken back to Norcaster, and again he pressed him 
to speak, and again Harborough gave him a point- 
blank refusal. 

**Not unless it comes to the very worst, sir," he 
said firmly, *'and only then if I see there's no other 
way — and even then it would only be for my daugh- 
ter's sake. But it won't come to that ! There's three 
weeks yet — good — and if somebody can't find out the 
truth in three weeks " 

*'Man alive!" exclaimed Brereton. "Your own 
common-sense ought to tell you that in cases like this 
three years isn't enough to get at the truth! What 
can I do in three weeks ? ' ' 

"There's not only you, sir," replied Harborough. 
"There's the police — there's the detectives — 
there's " 

"The police and the detectives are all doing their 
best to fasten the crime on you!" retorted Brereton. 
"Of course they are! That's their way. When, 
they've safely got one man, do you think they're 
going'to look for another? If you won't tell me what 
you were doing, and where you were that night, well, 
I'll have to find out for myself." 

Harborough gave his counsel a peculiar look which 
Brereton could not understand. 

"Oh, weU!" he said. "If you found it out " 

He broke off at that, and would say no more, and 
Brereton presently left him and walked thought- 



THE ANONYMOUS LETTER 125 

fully homeward, reflecting on the prisoner's last 
words. 

''He admits there is something to be found out," 
he mused. "And by that very admission he implies 
that it could be found out. Now — how? Egad! — 
I 'd give something* for even the least notion ! ' ' 

Bent's parlour-maid, opening the door to Brereton, 
turned to a locked drawer in the old-fashioned clothes- 
press which stood in Bent's hall, and took from it a 
registered letter. 

**For you, sir," she said, handing it to Brereton. 
* ' Came by the noon post, sir. The housekeeper signed 
for it." 

Brereton took the letter into the smoking-room and 
looked at it with a sudden surmise that it might have 
something to do with the matter which was uppermost 
in his thoughts. He had had no expectation of any 
registered letter, no idea of anything that could cause 
any correspondent of his to send him any communica- 
tion by registered post. There was no possibility of 
recognizing the handwriting of the sender, for there 
was no handwriting to recognize: the address was 
typewritten. And the postmark was London. 

Brereton carefully cut open the flap of the envelope 
and drew out the enclosure — a square sheet of type- 
writing paper folded about a thin wad of Bank of 
England notes. He detached these at once and 
glanced quickly at them. There were six of them: 
all new and crisp — and each was for a hundred and 
fifty pounds. 

Bre?eton laid this money aside and opened the 
let.tGjr, This, too, was typewritten: a mere glance at 



126 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

its termination showed that it was anonymous. He 
sat down at Bent's desk and carefully read it 
through. 

There was no address: there was nothing beyond 
the postmark on the envelope to show where the letter 
came from; there was absolutely nothing in the con- 
tents to give any clue to the sender. But the word- 
ing was clear and plain. 

"Mr. Gifford Brereton, — Having learnt from the 
newspapers that you are acting as counsel for John 
Harborough, charged with the murder of a man 
named Kitely at Highmarket, I send you the en- 
closed £900 to be used in furthering Harborough 's 
defence. You will use it precisely as you think fit. 
You are not to spare it nor any endeavour to prove 
Harborough 's innocence — ^which is known to the 
sender. Whenever further funds are needed, all you 
need do is to insert an advertisement in the personal 
column of The Times newspaper in these words: 
Highmarket Exchequer needs replenishing, with your 
initials added. Allow me to suggest that you should 
at once offer a reward of £500 to whoever gives in- 
formation which will lead to the capture and convic- 
tion of the real murderer or murderers. If this of- 
fer fails to bring information speedily, double it. I 
repeat that no pains must be spared in this matter, 
and that money to any amount is no object. The 
sender of this letter will keep weU informed of the 
progress of events as narrated in the newspapers, to 
which you will please to afford all proper informa- 
tion." 



THE ANONYMOUS LETTER 127 

Brereton read this extraordinary communication 
through three times ; then he replaced letter and bank- 
notes in the envelope, put the envelope in an inner 
pocket, left the house, and walking across to the 
Northrop villa, asked to see Avice Harborough. 

Avice came to him in Mrs. Northrop 's drawing- 
room, and Brereton glancing keenly at her as she 
entered saw that she was looking worn and pale. He 
put the letter into her hands with a mere word. 

"Your father has a powerful friend — somewhere,*' 
he said. 

To his astonishment the girl showed no very great 
surprise. She started a little at the sight of the 
money; she flushed at one or two expressions in the 
letter. But she read the letter through without com- 
ment and handed it beck to him with a look of 
inquiry, 

"You don't seem surprised!" said Brereton. 

"There has always been so much mystery to me 
about my father that I 'm not surprised, ' ' she replied. 
"No! — I'm just thankful! For this man — whoever 
he is — says that my father's innocence is known to 
him. And that's — just think what it means — ^to 
me!" 

"Why doesn't he come forward and prove it, 
then ? ' ' demanded Brereton. 

Avice shook her head. 

"He — they — want it to be proved without that," 
she answered. "But — don't you think that if all else 
fails the man who wrote this would come forward? 
Oh, surely!" 

Brereton stood silently looking at her for a full 



128 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

minute. From the first time of meeting with her he 
had felt strangely and strongly attracted to his client 's 
daughter, and as he looked at her now he began to 
realize that he was perhaps more deeply interested in 
her than he knew. 

*'It's all the most extraordinary mystery — this 
about your father — that ever I came across!" he ex- 
claimed suddenly. Then he looked still more closely 
at her. ** You've been worrying!" he said impetu- 
ously. "Don't ! I beg you not to. I'll move heaven 
and earth — because I, personally, am absolutely con- 
vinced of your father 's innocence. And — here 's pow- 
erful help." 

"You'll do what's suggested here?" she asked. 

"Certainly! It's a capital idea," he answered. 
"I'd have done it myself if I'd been a rich man — but 
I'm not. Cheer up, now! — ^we're getting on splen- 
didly. Look here — ask Mrs. Northrop to let you come 
out with me. We'll go to the solicitor — together — 
and see about that reward at once." 

As they presently walked down to the town Brere- 
ton gave Avice another of his critical looks of in- 
spection. 

"You're feeling better," he said in his somewhat 
brusque fashion. "Is it this bit of good news?" 

"That — and the sense of doing something," she 
answered. "If I wasn't looking well when you came 
in just now, it was because this inaction is bad for 
me. I want to do something ! — something to help. If 
I could only be stirring — moving about. You under- 
stand?" 

"Quite!" responded Brereton. "And there is 



THE ANONYMOUS LETTER 129 

something you can do. I saw you on a bicycle the 
other day. Why not give up your teaching for a 
while, and scour the country round about, trying to 
get hold of some news about your father's movements 
that night? That he won't tell us anything himself 
is no reason why we shouldn't find out something 
for ourselves. He must have been somewhere — some 
one must have seen him ! Why not begin some inves- 
tigation? — ^you know the district. How does that 
strike you?" 

"I should be only too thankful," she said. "And 
I'll do it. The Northrops are very kind — ^they'll un- 
derstand, and they'll let me off. I'll begin at once — 
tomorrow. I'll hunt every village between the sea 
and the hills!" 

**Good!" said Brereton. "Some work of that sort, 
and this reward — ah, we shall come out all right, 
jou'U see." 

"I don't know what we should have done if it 
hadn't been for you!" said Avice. "But — we shan't 
forget. My father is a strange man, Mr. Brereton, 
but he's not the sort of man he's believed to be by 
these Highmarket people — and he's grateful to you — 
as you'll see." 

"But I must do something to merit his gratitude 
first, you know," replied Brereton. "Come! — I've 
done next to nothing as yet. But we'll make a fresh 
start with this reward — ^if your father's solicitor ap- 
proves." 

The solicitor did approve — strongly. And he op- 
ened his eyes to their widest extent when he read the 
anonymous letter and saw the bank-notes. 



130 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

"Your father/' he observed to Avice, "is the most 
mysterious man I ever heard of! The Kitely mys- 
tery, in my opinion, is nothing to the Harborough 
mystery. Do you really mean to tell me that you 
haven't an idea of what all this means?" 

"Not an idea!" replied Avice. "Not the ghost of 
one. ' ' 

"Well — we'll get these posters and handbills out, 
anyway, Mr. Brereton," said the solicitor. "Five 
hundred pounds is a good figure. Lord bless you! — 
some of these Highmarket folk would sell their moth- 
ers for half that! The whole population will be 
turned into amateur detectives. Now let's draft the 
exact wording, and then we'll see the printer." 

Next day the bill-poster placarded Highmarket with 
the reward bills, and distributed them broadcast in 
shops and offices, and one of the first persons to lay 
hands on one was Mallalieu & Cotherstone 's clerk, 
Herbert Stoner, 



CHAPTEK XIV 

THE SHEET OF FIGURES 

At that time Stoner had been in the employment 
of Mallalieu and Cotherstone for some five or six 
years. He was then twenty-seven years of age. He 
was a young man of some ability — sharp, alert, quick 
at figures, good at correspondence, punctual, willing: 
he could run the business in "the absence of its owners. 
The two partners appreciated Stoner, and they had 
gradually increased his salary until it reached the 
sum of two pounds twelve shillings and sixpence per 
week. In their opinion a young single man ought to 
have done very well on that : Mallalieu and Cother- 
stone had both done very well on less when they were 
clerks in that long vanished past of which they did not 
care to think. But Stoner was a jyoung man of 
tastes. He liked to dress well. He liked to play 
cards and billiards. He liked to take a drink or two 
at the Highmarket taverns of an evening, and to be 
able to give his favourite barmaids boxes of chocolate 
or pairs of gloves now and then — judiciously. And 
he found his salary not at all too great, and he was 
always on the look-out for a chance of increasing it. 

Stoner emerged from Mallalieu & Cotherstone 's of- 
131 



132 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

fice at his usual hour of half-past five on the after- 
noon of the day on which the reward bills were put 
out. It was his practice to drop in at the Grey Mare 
Inn every evening on his way to his supper, there to 
drink a half-pint of bitter ale and hear the news of the 
day from various cronies who were to be met with in 
the bar-parlour. As he crossed the street on this 
errand on this particular evening, Postick, the local 
bill-poster, came hurrying out of the printer's shop 
with a bundle of handbills under his arm, and as he 
sped past Stoner, thrust a couple of them into the 
clerk's hand. 

"Here y'are, Mr. Stoner!" he said without stop- 
ping. "Something for you to set your wits to work 
on. Five hundred reward — for a bit o' brain work!" 

Stoner, who thought Postick was chaffing him, was 
about to throw the handbills, still damp from the 
press, into the gutter which he was stepping over. 
But in the light of an adjacent lamp he caught sight 
of the word Murder in big staring capitals at the top 
of them. Beneath it he caught further sight of fa- 
miliar names — and at that he folded up the bills, went 
into the Grey Mare, sat down in a quiet corner, and 
read carefully through the announcement. It was a 
very simple one, and plainly worded. Five hundred 
pounds would be paid by Mr. Tallington, solicitor, of 
Highmarket, to any person or persons who would af- 
ford information which would lead to the arrest and 
conviction of the murderer or murderers of the de- 
ceased Kitely. 

No one was in the bar-parlour of the Grey Mfire 
when Stoner first entered it, but by the time he had 



THE SHEET OF FIGURES 133 

re-read the handbill, two or three men of the town 
had come in, and he saw that each carried a copy. 
One of them, a small tradesman whose shop was in 
the centre of the Market Square, leaned against the 
bar and read the terms of the reward aloud. 

''And whose money might that be?" he asked, half- 
sneeringly. ** Who's throwing brass round in that 
free-handed fashion? I should want to know if the 
money 's safe before I wasted my time in trying to get 
it." 

"Money '11 be all right," observed one of the speak- 
er's companions. "There's Lawyer Tallington's 
name at the foot o' that bill. He wouldn't put his 
name to no offer o' that sort if he hadn't the brass in 
hand." 

"Whose money is it, then?" demanded the first 
speaker. "It's not a Government reward. They say 
that Kitely had no relatives, so it can 't be them. And 
it can't be that old housekeeper of his, because they 
say she 's satisfied enough that Jack Harborough 's the 
man, and they 've got him. Queer do altogether, I call 
it!" 

"It's done in Harborough 's interest," said a third 
man. Either that, or there's something very deep 
in it. Somebody's not satisfied and somebody's going 
to have a flutter with his brass over it." He turned 
and glanced at Stoner, who had come to the bar for 
his customary half -pint of ale. "Your folks aught to 
do with this?" he asked. "Kitely was Mr, Cother- 
stone 's tenant, of course. ' ' 

Stoner laughed scornfully as he picked up his 
tankard. 



134. THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

"Yes, I don't think!" he sneered. "Catch either 
of my governors wasting five hundred pence, or five 
pence, in that way! Not likely!" 

"Well, there's Tallington's name to back it," said 
one of the men. "We all know Tallington. What 
he says, he does. The money 11 be there — if it's 
earned. ' ' 

Then they all looked at each other silently, surmise 
and speculation in the eyes of each. 

"Tell you what!" suddenly observed the little 
tradesman, as if struck with a clever idea. * * It might 
be young Bent! Five hundred pound is naught to 
him. This here young London barrister that's de- 
fending Harborough is stopping with Bent — they're 
old schoolmates. Happen he's persuaded Bent to do 
the handsome : they say that this barrister chap 's right 
down convinced that Harborough 's innocent. It must 
be Bent's brass!" 

"What's Popsie say?" asked one of the younger 
members of the party, winking at the barmaid, who, 
having supplied her customers' needs, was leaning 
over a copy of the handbill which somebody had laid 
on the bar. "Whose brass can it be, Popsie?" 

The barmaid stood up, seized a glass and a cloth, 
and began to polish the glass with vigor. 

"What's Popsie say?" she repeated. "Why, what 
she says is that you're a lot of donkeys for wasting 
your time in wondering whose brass it is. What does 
it matter whose brass it is, so long as it 's safe ? What 
you want to do is to try and earn it. You don't pick 
up five hundred pounds every day!" 

"She's right!" said some man of the group. 



THE SHEET OF FIGURES 135 

"'But — how does anybody start on to them games?" 

''There'll be plenty o' starters, for all that, my 
lads!" observed the little tradesman. "Never you 
fear! There'll be candidates." 

Stoner drank off his ale and went away. Usually, 
being given to gossip, he stopped chatting with any- 
body he chanced to meet until it was close upon his 
supper-time. But the last remark sent him off. For 
Stoner meant to be a starter, and he had no desire 
that anybody should get away in front of him. 

The lodging in which Stoner kept his bachelor state 
was a quiet and eminently respectable one. He had 
two small rooms, a parlour and a bedchamber, in the 
house of a widow with whom he had lodged ever since 
his first coming to Highmarket, nearly six years be- 
fore. In the tiny parlour he kept a few books and 
a writing-desk, and on those evenings which he did 
not spend in playing cards or billiards, he did a little 
intellectual work in the way of improving his knowl- 
edge of French, commercial arithmetic, and business 
correspondence. And that night, his supper being 
eaten, and the door closed upon his landlady, he 
lighted his pipe, sat down to his desk, unlocked one of 
its drawers, and from an old file-box drew out some 
papers. One of these, a half -sheet of ruled foolscap, 
he laid in front of him, the rest he put back. And 
then, propping his chin on his folded hands, Stoner 
gave that half -sheet a long, speculative inspection. 

If anybody had looked over Stoner 's shoulder they 
would have seen him gazing at a mass of figures. 
The half -sheet of foolscap was covered with figures: 
the figuring extended to the reverse side. And — • 



136 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

•what a looker-on might not have known, but what 
Stoner knew very well — the figures were all of Coth- 
erstone's making — clear, plain, well-formed figures. 
And amongst them, and on the margins of the half- 
sheet, and scrawled here and there, as if purposelessly 
and carelessly, was one word in Cotherstone 's hand- 
writing, repeated over and over again. That word 
was — Wilchester. 

Stoner knew how that half-sheet of foolscap had 
come into his possession. It was a half-sheet which 
he had found on Cotherstone 's desk when he went 
into the partners' private room to tidy things up on 
the morning after the murder of Kitely. It lay there, 
carelessly tossed aside amongst other papers of clearer 
meaning, and Stoner, after one glance at it, had care- 
fully folded it, placed it in his pocket, taken it home, 
and locked it up, to be inspected at leisure. 

He had had his reasons, of course, for this abstrac- 
tion of a paper which rightfully belonged to Cother- 
stone. Those reasons were a little difficult to explain 
to himself in one way ; easy enough to explain, in an- 
other. As regards the difficulty, Stoner had someliovr 
or other got a vague idea, that evening of the murder, 
that something was wrong with Cotherstone. He had 
noticed, or thought he noticed, a queer look on old 
Kitely 's face when the ex-detective left the private 
room — it was a look of quiet satisfaction, or triumph, 
or malice; any way, ^said Stoner, it was something. 
Then there was the fact of Cotherstone 's curious ab- 
straction when he, Stoner, entered and found his em- 
ployer sitting in the darkness, long after Kitely had 
gone — Cotherstone had said he was asleep, but Stoner 



THE SHEET OF FIGURES 137 

knew that to be a fib. Altogether, Stoner had gained 
a vague feeling, a curious intuition, that there was 
something queer, not unconnected with the visit of 
Cotherstone's new tenant, and when he heard, next 
morning, of what had befallen Kitely, all his suspi- 
cions were renewed. 

So much for the diflSeult reasons which had made 
Tn'm appropriate the half -sheet of foolscap. But there 
was a reason which was not difficult. It lay in the 
presence of that word Wilchester. If not of the finest 
degree of intellect, Stoner was far from being a fool, 
and it had not taken him very long to explain to him- 
self why Cotherstone had scribbled the name of that 
far-off south-country town all over that sheet of paper, 
aimlessly, apparently without reason, amidst his figur- 
ings. It VMS uppermost in his thoughts at the time — 
and as he sat there, pen in hand, he had written 
it down, half -unconsciously, over and over again. . . . 
There it was — Wilchester — Wilchester — ^Wilchester. 

The reiteration had a peculiar interest for Stoner, 
He had never heard Cotherstone nor Mallalieu men- 
tion Wilchester at any time since his first coming 
into their office. The firm had no dealings with any 
firm at Wilchester. Stoner, who dealt with all the 
Mallalieu & Cotherstone correspondence, knew that 
during his five and a half years' clerkship, he had 
never addressed a single letter to any one at Wil- 
chester, never received a single letter bearing the 
Wilchester post-mark. Wilchester was four hundred 
miles away, far off in the south; ninety-nine out of 
every hundred persong in Highmarket had never 



138 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

heard the name of Wilchester. But Stoner had — 
quite apart from the history books, and the geog- 
raphy books, and map of England. Stoner him- 
self was a Darlington man. He had a close friend, 
a bosom friend, at Darlington, named Myler — David 
Myler. Now David Myler was a commercial traveller 
— a smart fellow of Stoner 's age. He was in the 
service of a Darlington firm of agricultural implement 
makers, and his particular round lay in the market- 
towns of the south and south-west of England. He 
spent a considerable part of the year in those districts, 
and Wilchester was one of his principal headquarters : 
Stoner had many a dozen letters of Myler 's, which 
Myler had written to him from Wilchester. And only 
a year before all this, Myler had brought home a bride 
in the person of a Wilchester girl, the daughter of a 
Wilchester tradesman. 

So the name of Wilchester was familiar enough to 
Stoner. And* now he wanted to know what — what 
— what made it so familiar to Cotherstone that Coth- 
erstone absent-mindedly scribbled it all over a half- 
sheet of foolscap paper? 

But the figures? Had they any connexion with 
the word? This was the question which Stoner put 
to himself when he sat down that night in his parlour 
to seriously consider if he had any chance of winning 
that five hundred pounds reward. He looked at the 
figures again — more carefully. The truth was that 
until that evening he had never given much attention 
to those figures: it was the word Wilchester that 
had fascinated him. But now, summoning all his by 
no means small arithmetical knowledge to his aid, 



THE SHEET OF FIGURES 139 

Stoner concentrated himself on an effort to discover 
what those figures meant. That they were a calcula- 
tion of some sort he had always known — now he 
wanted to know of what. 

The solution of the problem came to him all of a 
sudden — as the solution of arithmetical problems often 
does come. He saw the whole thing quite plainly and 
wondered that he had not seen it at a first glance. 
The figures represented nothing whatever but three 
plain and common sums — in compound arithmetic. 
Cotherstone, for some reason of his own, had taken the 
sum of two thousand pounds as a foundation, and had 
calculated (1st) what thirty years' interest on that 
sum at three and a half per cent, would come to; 
and (2nd) what thirty years' interest at five per cent, 
would come to; and (3rd) what the compound inter- 
est on two thousand pounds would come to — capital 
and compound interest — in the same period. The last 
reckoning — ^the compound interest one — ^had been 
crossed over and out with vigorous dashes of the pen, 
as if the calculator had been appalled on discovering 
what an original sum of two thousand pounds, left at 
compound interest for thirty years, would be trans- 
formed into in that time. 

All this was so much Greek to Stoner. But he knew 
there was something in it — something behind those 
figures. They might refer to some Corporation finan- 
cial business — Cotherstone being Borough Treasurer. 
But — they might not. And why were they mixed up 
with Wilchester? 

For once in a way, Stoner took no walk abroad 
that night. Usually, even when he stopped in of an 



14.0 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

evening, he had a brief stroll to the Grey Mare and 
back last thing before going to bed. But on this oc- 
casion he forgot all about the Grey Mare, and Popsie 
the barmaid did not come into his mind for even a 
second. He sat at home, his feet on the fender, his 
eyes fixed on the dying coals in the grate. He thought 
— thought so hard that he forgot that his pipe had 
gone out. The fire had gone out, too, when he finally 
rose and retired. And he went on thinking for a long 
time after his head had sought his pillow. 

"Well, it's Saturday tomorrow, anyway 1" he 
mused at last. * ' Which is lucky. ' ' 

Next day — ^being Saturday and half-holiday — 
Stoner attired himself in his best garments, and, in 
the middle of the afternoon, took traiu for Darlington. 



CHAPTER XV 

ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER 

Although Stoner hailed from Darlington, he had no 
folk of his own left there — ^they were all dead and 
gone. Accordingly he put himself up at a cheap 
hotel, and when he had taken what its proprietors 
called a meat tea, he strolled out and made for that 
part of the town in which his friend Myler had set 
up housekeeping in a small establishment wherein 
there was just room for a couple of people to turn 
round. Its accommodation, indeed, was severely 
taxed just then, for Myler 's father and mother-in-law 
had come to visit him and their daughter, and when 
Stoner walked in on the scene and added a fifth the 
tiny parlour was filled to its full extent. 

''Who'd ha' thought of seeing you, Stoner!" ex- 
claimed Myler joyously, when he had welcomed his 
old chum, and had introduced him to the family circle. 
"And what brings you here, anyivay? Business?" 

"Just a bit of business," answered Stoner. 
"Nothing much, though — only a call to make, laler 
on. I *m stopping the night, though. ' ' 

"Wish we could ha' put you up here^ old sport!" 
said Myler, ruefully. "But we don't live in a castle, 
yet. AU full here! — unless you'd like a shakedown 

141 



142 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

on the kitchen table, or in thfi wood-shed. Or you 
can try the bath, if you like. ' ' 

Amidst the laughter which succeeded this pleas- 
antry, Stoner said that he wouldn't trDufole the do- 
mestic peace so far — he'd already booked his room. 
And while Myler — who, commercial-traveller like, cul- 
tivated a reputation for wit — indulged in further 
jokes, Stoner stealthily inspected the father-in-law. 
What a fortunate coincidence! he said to himself; 
what a lucky stroke ! There he was, wanting badly to 
find out something about Wilchester — and here, elbow 
to elbow with him, was a Wilchester man ! And an 
elderly Wilchester man, too — one who doubtless re- 
membered all about Wilchester for many a long year. 
That was another piece of luck, for Stoner was quite 
certain that if Cotherstone had ever had any connex- 
ion with Wilchester it must have been a long, long 
time ago: he knew, from information acquired, that 
Cotherstone had been a fixture in Highmarket for 
thirty years. 

He glanced at Myler 's father-in-law again as Myler, 
remarking that when old friends meet, the flowing 
bowl must flow, produced a bottle of whisky from a 
brand-new chiffonier, and entreated his bride to fetch 
what he poetically described as the crystal goblets and 
the sparkling stream. The father-in-law was a little 
apple-faced old gentleman with bright eyes and a 
ready smile, who evidently considered his son-in-law 
a born wit, and was ready to laugh at all his sallies. 
A man of good memory, that, decided Stoner, and 
wondered how he could diplomaticaly lead Mr. Pursey 



ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER 143 

to talk about the town he came from. But Mr. Pursey 
was shortly to talk about Wilchester to some purpose 
— and with no drawing-out from Stoner or anybody. 

"Well," remarked Myler, having supplied his 
guests with spirituous refreshment, and taken a pull 
at his own glass. "I'm glad to see you, Stoner, and 
so's the missis, and here's hoping you'll come again 
as often as the frog went to the water. You've been 
having high old times in that back-of -beyond town of 
yours, haven't you? Battles, murders, sudden 
deaths! — ^who'd ha' thought a slow old hill-country 
town like Highmarket could have produced so much 
excitement ! What 's happened to that chap they col- 
lared? — I haven't had time to look at the papers this 
last day or two — been too busy." 

"Committed for trial," answered Stoner. "He'U 
come up at Norcaster Assizes next month. ' ' 

"Do they think he did it?" asked Myler. "Is it 
a sure thing?" 

Before Stoner could reply Mr. Pursey entered the 
arena. His face displayed the pleased expression of 
the man who has special information. 

"It's an odd thing, now, David," he said in a 
high, piping voice, "a very odd thing, that this should 
happen when I come up into these parts — almost as 
foreign to me as the Fiji Islands might be. Yes, sir," 
he went on, turning to Stoner, "it's very odd! I 
knew that man Kitely." 

Stoner could have jumped from his seat, but he 
restrained himself, and contrived to show no more 
than a polite interest. 



144. THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

**0h, indeed, sir?" he said. **The poor man that 
was murdered? You knew him?" 

"I remember him very well indeed," assented Mr. 
Pursey. *'Yes, although I only met him once, I've 
a very complete recollection of the man. I spent a 
very pleasant evening with him and one or two more 
of his profession — ^better sort of police and detectives, 
you know — at a friend's of mine, who was one of our 
Wilchester police oflSicials — oh, it's — ^yes — it must be 
thirty years since. They'd come from London, of 
course, on some criminal business. Deary me! — ^the 
tales them fellows could teU!" 

"Thirty years is a long time, sir," observed Stoner 
politely. 

**Aye, but I remember it quite well," said Mr. 
Pursey, with a confident nod. "I know it was thirty 
years ago, 'cause it was the Wilchester Assizes at 
which the Mallows & Chidforth case was tried. Yes 
— ^thirty years. Eighteen hundred and eighty-one 
was the year. Mallows & Chidforth — aye!" 

"Famous case that, sir?" asked Stoner. He was 
almost bursting with excitement by that time, and 
he took a big gulp of whisky and water to calm him- 
self. "Something special, sir? Murder, eh?" 

"No — fraud, embezzlement, defalcation — I forget 
what the proper legal term 'ud be," replied Mr. Pur- 
sey. "But it was a bad case — a real bad 'un. We'd 
a working men's building society in Wilchester in 
those days — it's there now for that matter, but under 
another name — and there were two better-class young 
workmen, smart fellows, that acted one as secretary 
and t'other as treasurer to it. They'd full control, 



ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER 145 

those two had, and they were trusted, aye, as if they'd 
been the Bank of England! And all of a sudden, 
something came out, and it was found that these two. 
Mallows, treasurer, Chidforth, secretary, had made 
away with two thousand pounds of the society's 
money. Two thousand pounds!" 

"Two thousand pounds?" exclaimed Stoner, whose 
thoughts went like lightning to the half -sheet of fools- 
cap. "You don't say!" 

"Yes — well, it might ha' been a pound or two 
more or less," said the old man, "but two thousand 
was what they called it. And of course Mallows and 
Chidworth were prosecuted — and they got two years. 
Oh, yes, jve remember that case very well indeed in 
iWilchester, don't we, Maria?" 

"And good reason!" agreed Mrs. Pursey warmly. 
"There were a lot of poor people nearly ruined by 
them bad young men." 

"There were!" affirmed Mr. Pursey. "Yes — oh, 
P yes! Aye — I've often wondered what became of 'em 
— Mallows and Chidforth, I mean. For from the time 
they got out of prison they've never been heard of in 
our parts. Not a word! — they disappeared com- 
pletely. Some say, of course, that they had that 
money safely planted, and went to it. I don't know. 
But — off they went. ' ' 

"Pooh!" said Myler. "That's an easy one. "Went 
off to some colony or other, of course. Common oc- 
currence, father-in-law. Bert, old sport, what say if 
we rise on our pins and have a hundred at billfards at 
the Stag and Hunter — good table there." 



146 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

Stoner followed his friend out of the little house, 
and once outside took him by the arm. 

''Confound the billards, Dave, old man!" he said, 
almost trembling with suppressed excitement. "Look 
here! — d'you know a real quiet comer in the Stag 
where we can have an hour's serious consultation. 
You do? — then come on, and I'll tell you the most 
wonderful story you ever heard since your ears were 
opened ! ' ' 

Myler, immediately impressed, led the way into a 
small and vacant parlour in the rear of a neighbour- 
ing hostelry, ordered refreshments, bade the girl who 
brought them to leave him and his friend alone, and 
took the liberty of locking the door on their privacy. 
And that done he showed himself such a perfect lis- 
tener that he never opened his lips until Stoner had 
set forth everything before him in detail. Now and 
then he nodded, now and then his sharp eyes dilated, 
now and then he clapped his hands. And in the end 
he smote Stoner on the shoulder. 

''Stoner, old sport!" he exclaimed, "It's a sure 
thing ! Gad, I never heard a clearer. That five hun- 
dred is yours — aye, as dead certain as that my nose 
is mine ! It 's — it 's — ^what they call inductive reason- 
ing. The initials M. and C. — Mallows and Chidforth 
— Mallalieu and Cotherstone — the two thousand 
pounds — the fact that Kitely was at Wilchester 
Assizes in 1881 — that he became Cotherstone 's tenant 
thirty years after — oh, I see it all, and so will a judge 
and jury! Stoner, one, or both of 'em killed that 
old chap to silence him!" 

"That's my notion," assented Stoner, who was 



ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER 147 

highly pleased with himself, and by that time con- 
vinced that his own powers, rather than a combina- 
tion of lucky circumstances, had brought the desired 
result about. ' ' Of course, I 've worked it out to that. 
And the thing now is — what's the best line to take? 
What would you suggest, Dave ? ' ' 

Myler brought all his business acumen to bear on 
the problem presented to him. 

"What sort of chap is this Tallington?" he asked 
at last, pointing to the name at the foot of the reward 
handbill. 

"Most respectable solicitor in Highmarket," an- 
swered Stoner, promptly. 

"Word good?" asked Myler. 

"Good as — gold," affirmed Stoner. 

"Then if it was me," said Myler, "I should make 
a summary of what I knew, on paper — carefully — 
and I should get a private interview with this Tailing- 
ton and tell him — all. Man ! — you 're safe of that five 
hundred! For there's no doubt, Stoner, on the evi- 
dence, no doubt whatever!" 

Stoner sat silently reflecting things for a while. 
Then he gave his friend a sly, somewhat nervous 
look. Although he and Myler had been bosom friends 
since they were breeched, Stoner was not quite cer- 
tain as to what Myler would say to what he, Stoner, 
was just then thinking of. 

"Look here," he said suddenly. "There's this 
about it. It's all jolly well, but a fellow's got to think 
for himself, Dave, old man. Now it doesn't matter 
a twopenny cusa to me about old Kitely — I don 't care 
if he was scragged twice over — I've no doubt he de- 



14.8 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

served it. But it'll matter a lot to M. & C. if they're 
found out. I can touch that five hundred easy as 
winking — but — you take my meaning? — I daresay 
M. & C. 'ud run to five thousand if I kept my tongue 
still. What?'* 

But Stoner knew at once that Myler disapproved. 
The commercial traveller's homely face grew grave, 
and he shook his head with an unmistakable gesture. 

''No, Stoner," he said. ''None o' that! Play 
straight, my lad! No hush-money transactions. 
Keep to the law, Stoner, keep to the law! Besides, 
there's others than you can find all this out. What 
you want to do is to get in first. See Tallington as 
soon as you get back." 

"I daresay you're right," admitted Stoner. "But 
— I know M. & C, and I know they'd give — aye, half 
of what they're worth — ^and that's a lot ! — to have this 
kept dark." 

That thought was with him whenever he woke in 
the night, and as he strolled round Darlington next 
morning, it was still with him when, after an early 
dinner, he set off homeward by an early afternoon 
train which caried him to High Gill junction ; whence 
he had to walk five miles across the moors and hills 
to Highmarket. And he was still pondering it 
weightily when, in one of the loneliest parts of the 
solitudes which he was crossing, he turning the corner 
of a little pine wood, and came face to face with 
Mallalieu. 



CHAPTER XVI 

THE LONELY MOOR 

During the three hours which had elapsed since his 
departure from Darlington, Stoner had been thinking 
things over. He had seen his friend Myler again that 
morning ; they had had a drink or two together at the 
station refreshment room before Stoner 's train left, 
and Myler had once more urged upon Stoner to use 
his fortunately acquired knowledge in the proper way. 
No doubt, said Myler, he could get Mallalieu and 
Cotherstone to square him; no doubt they would 
cheerfully pay thousands where the reward only came 
to hundreds — but, when everything was considered, 
was it worth while ? No ! — a thousand times, no, said 
Myler. The mere fact that Stoner had found out all 
this was a dead sure proof that somebody else might 
find it out. The police had a habit, said Myler, of 
working like moles — underground. How did Stoner 
know that some of the Norcaster and London detec- 
tives weren't on the job already? They knew by 
that time that old Kitely was an ex-detective ; they 'd 
be sure to hark back on his past doings, in the effort 
to trace some connexion between one or other of them 
and his murder. Far away as it was, that old Wil- 

149 



150 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

Chester affair would certainly come up again. And 
when it came up — ah, well, observed Myler, with force 
and earnestness, it would be a bad job for Stoner if it 
were found out that he'd accepted hush-money from 
his masters. In fact — Myler gave it as his decided 
opinion, though, as he explained, he wasn't a lawyer 
• — ^he didn 't know but what Stoner, in that case, would 
be drawn in as an accessory after the fact. 

''Keep to the law, Bert, old man!" counselled 
Myler, as they parted. "You'll be all right then. 
Stick to my advice — see Tallington at once — this very 
afternoon! — and put in for the five hundred. You'll 
be safe as houses in doing that — but there 'd be an 
awful risk about t'other, Bert. Be wise! — ^you'll get 
no better counsel." 

Stoner knew that his sagacious friend was right, 
and he was prepared to abide by his counsel — as long 
as Myler was at his elbow. But when he had got 
away from him, his mind began to wobble. Five hun- 
dred pounds! — what was it in comparison with what 
he might get by a little skilful playing of his cards? 
He knew Mallalieu and he knew Cotherstone — knew 
much more about both of them than they had any idea 
of. He knew that they were rich men — very rich 
men. They had been making money for years, and 
of late certain highly successful and profitable con- 
tracts had increased their wealth in a surprising 
fashion. Everything had gone right with them — 
every contract they had taken up had turned out a 
gold mine. Five thousand pounds would be nothing 
to them singly — much less jointly. In Stoner 's opin- 
ion, he had only to ask in order to have. He firmly 



THE LONELY MOOR 151 

believed th^t they would pay — pay at once, in good 
cash. And if they did — well, he would take good 
care that no evil chances came to him! If he laid 
iiands on five thousand pounds, he would be out of 
Highmarket within five hours, and half-way across the 
Atlantic within five days. No — Dave Myler was a 
good sort — one of the best — but he was a bit straight- 
laced, and old-fashioned — especially since he had 
taken a wife — and after all, every man has a right to 
do his best for himself. And so, when Stoner came 
face to face with Mallalieu, on the lonely moor be- 
tween High Gill and Highmarket, his mind was al- 
ready made up to blackmail. 

The place in which they met was an appropriajte 
one — for Stoner 's purpose. He had crossed the high 
ground between the railway and the little moorland 
town by no definite track, but had come in a bee-line 
across ling and bracken and heather. All around 
stretched miles upon miles of solitude — nothing but 
the undulating moors, broken up by great masses of 
limestone rock and occasional clumps and coverts of 
fir and pine; nothing but the blue line of the hills 
in the west; nothing but the grey northern skies 
overhead ; nothing but the cry of the curlew and the 
bleating of the mountain sheep. It was in the midst 
of this that he met his senior employer — at the corner 
of a thin spinney which ran along the edge of a dis- 
used quarry. Mallalieu, as Stoner well knew, was a 
great man for walking on these moors, and he always 
walked alone. He took these walks to keep his flesh 
down; here he came, swinging his heavy oak walk- 
ing-stick, intent on his own thoughts, and he and 



152 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

Stoner, neither hearing the other's footfall on the 
soft turf, almost ran into each other. Stoner, taken 
aback, flushed with the sudden surprise. 

But Mallalieu, busied with his own reflections, had 
no thought of Stoner in his mind, and consequently 
showed no surprise at meeting him. He made a 
point of cultivating friendly relations with all who 
worked for him, and he grinned pleasantly at his 
clerk. 

"Hullo!" he exclaimed cordially. "Taking your 
walks alone, eh? Now I should ha' thought a young 
fellow like you would ha' been taking one o' Miss 
Featherby's little milliners out for a dander, like- 
down the river-side, what?'* 

Stoner smiled — not as Mallalieu smiled. He was in 
no mood for persiflage; if he smiled it was because 
he thought that things were coming his way, that the 
game was being played into his hands. And sud- 
denly he made up his mind. 

"Something better to do than that, Mr. Mallalieu," 
he answered pertly. "I don't waste my time on dress- 
makers' apprentices. Something better to think of 
than that, sir." 

"Oh!" said Mallalieu. "Ah! I thought you 
looked pretty deep in reflection. "What might it be 
about, like?" 

Something within Stoner was urging him on to go 
straight to the point. No fencing, said this inward 
monitor, no circumlocution — get to it, straight out. 
And Stoner thrust his hand into his pocket, and 
pulled out a copy of the reward bill. He opened it 
before his employer, watching Mallalieu 's face. 



THE LONELY MOOR 153 

**That!" he said. *'Just that, Mr. Mallalieu." 

Mallalieu glanced at the handbill, started a little, 
and looked half -sharply, half-angrily, at his clerk. 

*'What about it?" he growled. His temper, as 
Stoner well knew, was quickly roused, and it showed 
signs of awakening now. "What 're you showing me 
that bit o' paper for? Mind your manners, young 
man!'* 

*'No offence meant," retorted Stoner, coolly. He 
looked round him, noticed some convenient railings, 
old and worn, which fenced in the quarry, and step- 
ping back to them, calmly leaned against the top one, 
put his hands in his pockets and looked at Mallalieu 
■with a glance which was intended to show that he 
felt himself top dog in any encounter that might come. 
**I want a word or two with you, Mr. Mallalieu," he 
said. 

Mallalieu, who was plainly amazed by this strange 
conduct, glared at Stoner. 

''You want a word — or two — ^with — me?" he ex- 
claimed. "For why, pray? — and why here?" 

"Here's a convenient spot," said Stoner, with a 
nasty laugh. "We're all alone. Not a soul near us. 
You wouldn't like anybody to overhear what I've got 
to say." 

Mallalieu stared at the clerk during a full minute's 
silence. He had a trick of silently staring people 
out of countenance. But he found that Stoner was 
not to be stared down, and eventually he spoke. 

"I'll tell you what it is, my lad!" he said. "I 
don't know whether you've been drinking, or if you've 
some bee in your bonnet, but I don't allow nobody, 



154- THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

.and especially a man as I pay wages to, to speak in 
them tones to me! "What d'ye mean by it?" 

''I'll tell you what I mean, Mr. Mallalieu," replied 
Stoner, still regarding his man fixedly, and nerving 
himself for the contest. ''I mean this — I know who 
killed Kitely!" 

Mallalieu felt himself start again; he felt his face 
flush warm. But he managed to show a fairly con- 
trolled front, and he made shift to sneer. 

"Oh, indeed," he said, twisting his mouth in de- 
rision. "Do you now? Deary me! — it's wonderful 
how clever some young folks is! So you know who 
killed Kitely, do you, my lad ? Ah ! And who did 
kill Kitely, now? Let's be knowing! Or happen 
you'd rather keep such a grand secret to yourself — 
till you can make something out of it?" 

"I can make something out of it now," retorted 
Stoner, who was sharp enough to see through Malla- 
lieu 's affectation of scorn. "Just you realize the im- 
portance of what I 'm saying. I tell you once again — ■ 
I know who killed Kitely!" 

"And who did kill him, then?" demanded Mal- 
lalieu. "Psha! — you know naught about it!" 

Stoner laughed, looked round, and then leaned his 
head forward. 

"Don't I?" he said, with a sneer that exceeded 
his employer's in significance and meaning. "But 
you're wrong — I do! Kitely was murdered by either 
you or Cotherstone! How's that, Mr. Mallalieu?" 

Mallalieu again regarded his clerk in silence. He 
knew by that time that this fellow was in possession 
of some information, and his characteristic inclina- 



THE LONELY MOOR 155 

tion was to fence with him. And he made a great 
effort to pull himself together, so as to deal better 
with whatever might be in store. 

"Either me or Mr. Cotherstone ! " he repeated sar- 
castically. * ' Oh ! Now which on us would you be in- 
clined to fix it on, Mr. Stoner? Eh?" 

*'May have been one, may have been the other, 
may have been both, for aught I know," retorted 
Stoner. ''But you're both guilty, any way! It's no 
use, Mr. Mallalieu — I know you killed him. And — I 
know why ! ' ' 

Again there was silence, and again a duel of star- 
ing eyes. And at its end Mallalieu laughed again, still 
affecting sneering and incredulous sentiments. 

"Aye? — and why did one or t'other or both — ^have 
it which way you will — murder this here old gentle- 
man?" he demanded. "Why, Mr. Sharp-nose?" 

"I'll tell you — and then you'll know what I know," 
answered Stoner, "Because the old gentleman was 
an ex-detective, who was present when you and Coth- 
erstone, under your proper names of Mallows and 
Chidforth, were tried for fraud at Wilchester Assizes, 
thirty years ago, and sentenced to two years! That's 
why, Mr. Mallalieu. The old chap knew it, and he 
let you know that he knew it, and you killed him to 
silence him. You didn't want it to get out that the 
Mayor and Borough Treasurer of Highmarket, so re- 
spected, so much thought of, are — a couple of old gaol- 
birds!" 

Mallalieu 's hot temper, held very well in check 
until then, flamed up as Stoner spat out the last con- 
temptuous epithet. He had stood with his right hand 



156 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

behind him, grasping his heavy oaken stick — now, as 
his rage suddenly boiled, he swung hand and stick 
round in a savage blow at his tormentor, and the crook 
of the stick fell crashing against Stoner's temples. 
So quick was the blow, so sudden the assault, that the 
clerk had time to do no more than throw up an arm. 
And as he threw it up, and as the heavy blow fell, the 
old, rotten railing against which Stoner had leant so 
nonchalantly, gave way, and he fell back through it, 
-and across the brow of the quarry — and without a 
sound. Mallalieu heard the crash of his stick on 
his victim's temples; he heard the rending and crack- 
ling of the railings — but he heard neither cry, nor 
sigh, nor groan from Stoner. Stoner fell backward 
and disappeared — and then (it seemed an age in com- 
ing) Mallalieu 's frightened senses were aware of a 
dull thud somewhere far down in the depths into 
which he had fallen. Then came silence — deep, heavy 
silence — ^broken at last by the cry of a curlew flying 
across the lonely moor. 

Mallalieu was seized with a trembling fit. He be- 
gan to shake. His heavy frame trembled as if under 
the effects of a bad ague ; the hand which had struck 
the blow shook so violently that the stick dropped 
from it. And Mallalieu looked down at the stick, 
and in a sudden overwhelming rage kicked it away 
from him over the brink of the quarry. He lifted his 
fist and shook it — and just as suddenly dropped it. 
The trembling passed, and he broke out into a cold 
sweat of fear. 

**God ha' mercy!" he muttered. "If— if he's 
killed? He shouldn't ha' plagued me — he shouldn't 



THE LONELY MOOR 157 

ha' dared me! It was more than flesh and blood 
could stand, and — Lord ha' mercy, what's to be 
done?" 

The autumn twilight was creeping over the moor. 
The sun had set behind the far-off western hills just 
before Mallalieu and Stoner had met, and while they 
talked dusk had come on. The moorlands were now 
growing dark and vague, and it seemed to Mallalieu 
that as the light failed the silence increased. He 
looked round him, fearful lest any of the shepherds of 
the district had come up to take a Sunday glance at 
their flocks. And once he thought he saw a figure at 
a little distance away along the edge of the trees, and 
he strained and strained his eyes in its direction — and 
concluded it was nothing. Presently he strained his 
eyes in another way — he crept cautiously to the edge 
of the quarry, and looked over the broken railing, and 
far down on the limestone rocks beneath he saw 
Stoner, lying on his back, motionless. 

Long experience of the moorlands and their nooks 
and crannies enabled Mallalieu to make his way down 
to the bottom of the quarry by a descent through a 
brake of gorse and bramble. He crept along by the 
undergrowth to where the body lay, and fearfully laid 
a hand on the still figure. One touch was sufficient — 
he stood up trembling and shaking more than ever. 

**He's dead— dead!" he muttered. "Must ha' 
broken his neck — it's a good fifty feet down here. 
"Was ever aught so unfortunate! And — ^whatever 
shall I say and do about it ? " 

Inspiration came to him quickly — as quickly as the 
darkness came into that place of death. He made 



158 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

an effort, and regained his composure, and presently 
was able to think and to decide. He would say and do 
nothing — nothing whatever. No one had witnessed 
the meeting between Stoner and himself. No one 
had seen the blow. No one had seen Stoner 's fall. 
Far better to say nothing, do nothing — far best to go 
away and let things take their course. Stoner 's body 
would be found, next day, the day after, some day — 
and when it was found, people would say that Stoner 
had been sitting on those rotten railings, and they had 
given way, and he had fallen — and whatever marks 
there were on him would be attributed to the fall 
down the sharp edges of the old quarry. 

So Mallalieu presently went away by another route, 
and made his way back to Highmarket in the darkness 
of the evening, hiding himself behind hedges and walls 
until he reached his own house. And it was not until 
he lay safe in bed that night that he remembered the 
loss of his stick. 



CHAPTER XVH 

THE MEDICAL OPINION 

The recollection of that stick plunged Mallalieu 
into another of his ague-like fits of shaking and trem- 
bling. There was little sleep for him after that: he 
spent most of the night in thinking, anticipating, and 
scheming. That stick would almost certainly be 
found, and it would be found near Stoner's body. A 
casual passer-by would not recognize it, a moorland 
shepherd would not recognize it. But the High- 
market police, to whom it would be handed, would 
know it at once to be the Mayor's: it was one which 
Mallalieu carried almost every day— a plain, very 
stout oak staff. And the police would want to know 
how it came to be in that quarry. Curse it! — was 
ever anything so unfortunate! — however could he 
have so far lost his head as to forget it ? He was half 
tempted to rise in the middle of the night and set 
out for the moors, to find it. But the night was dark, 
and solitary as the moors and the quarry where he 
dared not risk the taking of a lantern. And so 
he racked his brains in the effort to think of some 
means of explaining the presence of the stick. He 
hit on a notion at last — remembering suddenly that 
Stoner had carried neither stick nor umbrella. If the 
« 159 



160 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

»tick were found he would say that he had left it at 
the oflSce on the Saturday, and that the clerk must 
have borrowed it. There was nothing unlikely in 
that: it was a good reason, it would explain why it 
came to be found near the body. Naturally, the police 
would believe the word of the Mayor: it would be a 
queer thing if they didn't, in Mallalieu's opinion. 
And therewith he tried to go to sleep, and made a 
miserable failure of it. 

As he lay tossing and groaning in his comfortable 
bed that night, Mallalieu thought over many things. 
How had Stoner acquired his information ? Did any- 
body else know what Stoner knew? After much re- 
flection he decided that nobody but Stoner did know. 
Further reckoning up of matters gave him a theory as 
to how Stoner had got to know. He saw it all — ac- 
cording to his own idea. Stoner had overheard the 
conversation between old Kitely and Cotherstone in 
the private ofi&ce, of course! That was it — he won- 
dered he had never thought of it before. Between the 
partners* private room and the outer office in which 
Stoner sat, there was a little window in the wall; it 
had been specially made so that papers could be passed 
from one room to the other. And, of course, on that 
afternoon it had probably been a little way open, as 
it often was, and Stoner had heard what passed be- 
tween Cotherstone and his tenant. Being a deep 
chap, Stoner had kept the secret to himself until the 
reward was offered. Of course, his idea was black- 
mail — Mallalieu had no doubt about that. No — all 
things considered, he did not believe that Stoner had 
ahared his knowledge — Stoner would be too well con- 



THE MEDICAL OPINION 161 

vinced of its value to share it with anybody. That 
conclusion comforted Mallalieu — once more he tried to 
sleep. 

But his sleep was a poor thing that night, and he 
felt tired and worn when, as usual, he went early 
to the yard. He was there before Cotherstone; when 
Cotherstone came, no more than a curt nod was ex- 
changed between them. They had never spoken to 
each other except on business since the angry scene 
of a few days before, and now Mallalieu, after a glance 
at some letters which had come in the previous even- 
ing, went off down the yard. He stayed there an 
hour: when he re-entered the office he looked 
with an affectation of surprise at the clerk's empty 
desk. 

"Stoner not come?" he demanded curtly. 

Cotherstone, who was turning over the leaves of 
an account book, replied just as curtly. 

"Not yet!" 

Mallalieu fidgeted about for a while, arranging 
some papers he had brought in from the yard. Sud- 
denly he uttered an exclamation of impatience, and 
going to the door, called to a lad who was passing. 

''Here, you!" he said. "You know where Mr. 
Stoner lodges? — Mrs. Battley's. Run round there, 
and see why he hasn't come to his work. It's an 
hour and a half past his time. Happen he's poorly 
— run now, sharp!" 

He went off down the yard again when he had 
despatched this message; he came back to the 
office ten minutes later, just as the messenger re- 
turned. 



162 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

' ' Well ? " he demanded, with a side-glanee to assure 
himself that Cotherstone was at hand. "Where is 
he, like?" 

"Please, sir, Mrs. Battley, she says as how Mr. 
Stoner went away on Saturday afternoon, sir," an- 
swered the lad, "and he hasn't been home 
since. She thinks he went to Darlington, sir, on a 
visit." 

Mallalieu turned into the oflSee, growling. 

"Must ha' missed his train," he muttered as he 
put more papers on Stoner 's desk. "Here — 
happen you'll attend to these things — ^they want 
booking up." 

Cotherstone made no reply, and Mallalieu presently 
left him and w^ent home to get his breakfast. And as 
he walked up the road to his house he wondered why 
Stoner had gone to Darlington. Was it possible that 
he had communicated what he knew to any of his 
friends? If so 

"Confound the suspense and the uncertainty!" 
growled Mallalieu. "It 'ud wear the life out of a 
man. I've a good mind to throw the whole thing 
up and clear out! I could do it easy enough wi' my 
means. A clear track — and no more o' this infernal 
anxiety." 

He reflected, as he made a poor show of eating his 
breakfast, on the ease with which he could get away 
from Highmarket and from England. Being a par- 
ticularly astute man of business, Mallalieu had taken 
good care that all his eggs were not in one basket. 
He had many baskets — ^his Highmarket basket was 
by no means the principal one. Indeed all that Mai- 



THE MEDICAL OPINION 163 

ialieu possessed in Highmarket was his share of the 
business and his private house. As he had made his 
money he had invested it in easily convertible, gilt- 
edged securities, which would be realized at an hour's 
notice in London or New York, Paris or Vienna. It 
would be the easiest thing in the world for him, as 
Mayor of Highmarket, to leave the town on Corpora- 
tion business, and within a few hours to be where no- 
body could find him ; within a few more, to be out of 
the country. Lately, he had often thought of going 
right away, to enjoy himself for the rest of his life. 
He had made one complete disappearance already; 
why not make another? Before he went townwards 
again that morning, he was beginning to give serious 
attention to the idea. 

Meanwhile, however, there was the business of the 
day to attend to, and Stoner's absence threw addi- 
tional work on the two partners. Then at twelve 
o'clock, Mallalieu had to go over to the Town Hall 
to preside at a meeting of the General Purposes Com- 
mittee. That was just over, and he was thinking of 
going home to his lunch when the superintendent of 
police came into the committee-room and drew him 
aside. 

"I've bad news for you, Mr. Mayor," he announced 
in a whisper. "Your clerk — he hasn't been at work 
this morning, I suppose?" 

"Well?" demanded Mallalieu, nerving himself for 
what he felt to be coming. "What about it?" 

"He's met with a bad accident," replied the su- 
perintendent. * * In fact, sir, he 's dead ! A couple of 
men found his body an hour or so ago in Hobwick 



164> THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

Quarry, up on the moor, and it's been brought down 
to the mortuary. You'd better come round, Mr. 
Mayor — Mr. Cotherstone 's there, now." 

Mallalieu followed without a word. But once out- 
side the Town Hall he turned to his companion. 

'iHave you made aught out of it?" he asked. 
"He's been away, so his landlady says, since Satur- 
day afternoon : I sent round to inquire for him when 
he didn 't turn up this morning. What do you know, 
like?" 

**It looks as if it had been an accident," answered 
the superintendent. "These men that found him 
noticed some broken railings at top of the quarry. 
They looked down and saw a body. So they made 
their way down and found — Stoner. It would seem 
as if he'd leaned or sat on the railings and they'd 
given way beneath him, and of course he'd pitched 
headlong into the quarry. It's fifty feet deep, Mr. 
Mayor! That's all one can think of. But Dr. Rock- 
cliffe's with him now." 

Mallalieu made a mighty effort to appear calm, 
as, with a grave and concerned face, he followed his 
guide into the place where the doctor, an official or 
two, and Cotherstone were grouped about the dead 
man. He gave one glance at his partner and Coth- 
erstone gave one swift look at him — and there was 
something in Cotherstone 's look which communicated 
a sudden sense of uneasy fear to MaUalieu: it was a 
look of curious intelligence, almost a sort of signal. 
And Mallalieu eiperienced a vague feeling of dread as 
he turned to the doctor. 

"A bad job — a bad job!" he muttered, shaking his 



THE MEDICAL OPINION 165 

head and glancing sideways at the body. "D'ye 
make aught out of it, doctor? Can you say how it 
came about?" 

Dr. Rockcliffe pursed up his lips and his face be- 
came inscrutable. He kept silence for a moment — 
when he spoke his voice was unusually stem. 

"The lad's neck is broken, and his spine's frac- 
tured," he said in a low voice. "Either of those in- 
juries was enough to cause death. But — look at 
that!" 

He pointed to a contusion which showed itself 
with unmistakable plainness on the dead man's left 
temple, and again he screwed up his lips as if in 
disgust at some deed present only to the imag- 
ination. 

' * That 's a blow ! " he seid, more sternly than before. 
"A blow from some blunt instrument! It was a rav- 
age blow, too, dealt with tremendous force. It may 
— ^may, I say — have killed this poor fellow on the 
spot — he may have been dead before ever he fell down 
that quarry." 

It was only by an enormous effort of wiU that Mal- 
lalieu prevented himself from yielding to one of his 
shaking fits. 

"But — but mightn't he ha' got that with strik- 
ing his head against them rocks as he fell?" he sug- 
gested. "It's a rocky place, that, and the rocks 
project, like, so " 

"No!" said the doctor, doggedly. "That's no in- 
jury from any rock or stone or projection. It's the 
result of a particularly fierce blow dealt with great 
force by some blunt instrument — a life preserver, a 



166 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

club, a heavy stick. It 's no use arguing it. That 's a 
certainty ! ' ' 

Cotherstone, who had kept quietly in the back- 
ground, ventured a suggestion. 

"Any signs of his having been robbed?*' he asked. 

"No, sir," replied the superintendent promptly. 
* ' I 've everything that was on him. Not much, either. 
Watch and chain, half a sovereign, some loose silver 
and copper, his pipe and tobacco, a pocket-book with 
a letter or two and such-like in it — ^that's all. There 'd 
been no robbery." 

"I suppose you took a look round?" asked Coth- 
erstone. "See anything that suggested a struggle? 
Or footprints? Or aught of that sort?" 

The superintendent shook his head. 

"Naught!" he answered.. "I looked carefully at 
the ground round those broken railings. But it's the 
sort of ground that wouldn't show footprints, you 
know — covered with that short, wiry mountain grass 
that shows nothing. ' ' 

"And nothing was found ? ' ' asked Mallalieu. * ' No 
weapons, eh?" 

For the life of him he could not resist asking that 
— his anxiety aboigit the stick was overmastering him. 
And when the superintendent and the two policemen 
who had been with him up to Hobwick Quarry had 
answered that they had found nothing at all, he had 
hard work to repress a sigh of relief. He presently 
went away hoping that the oak stick had fallen into 
a crevice of the rocks or amongst the brambles which 
grew out of them; there was a lot of tangle-wood 
about that spot, and it was quite possible that the 



THE MEDICAL OPINION 16T 

stick, kicked violently away, had fallen where it 
would never be discovered. And — there was yet a 
chance for him to make that possible discovery im- 
possible. Now that the body had been found, he him- 
self could visit the spot with safety, on the pretext of 
curiosity. He could look round; if he found the 
stick he could drop it into a safe fissure of the rocks, 
or make away with it. It was a good notion — and in- 
stead of going home to lunch Mallalieu turned into 
a private room of the Highmarket Arms, ate a sand- 
wich and drank a glass of ale, and huried off, alone, 
to the moors. 

The news of this second mysterious death flew round 
Highmarket and the neighbourhood like wild-fire. 
Brereton heard of it during the afternoon, and hav- 
ing some business in the town in connexion with Har- 
borough's defence, he looked in at the police-station 
and found the superintendent in an unusually grave 
and glum mood. 

"This sort of thing's getting beyond me, Mr. Bre- 
reton," he said in a whisper. "Whether it is that 
I'm not used to such things — thank God! we've had 
little experience of violence in this place in my time ! 
— or what it is, but I 've got it into my head that this 
poor young fellow's death's connected in some way 
with. Kitely's affair! I have indeed, sir! — it's been 
bothering me all the afternoon. For all the doctors — 
there's been several of 'em in during the last two 
hours — are absolutely agreed that Stoner was felled, 
,sir — felled by a savage blow, and they say he may ha' 
been dead before ever he fell over that quarry edge. 
Mr. Brereton — I misdoubt it's another murder P' 



168 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

"Have you anything to go on?" asked Brereton. 
**Had anybody any motive? Was there any love af- 
fair — jealousy, you know — anything of that sort?" 

"No, I'm sure there wasn't," replied the super- 
intendent. "The whole town and county's ringing 
with the news, and I should ha' heard something by 
now. And it wasn't robbery — not that he'd much 
on him, poor fellow .' There 's all he had, ' ' he went on, 
opening a drawer. "You can look at 'em, if you 
like." 

He left the room just then, and Brereton, disre- 
garding the cheap watch and chain and the pigskin 
purse with its light load, opened Stoner's pocket- 
book. There was not much in that, either — a letter 
or two, some receipted bills, a couple of much creased 
copies of the reward bill, some cuttings from news- 
papers. He turned from thesa to the pocket-book it- 
self, and on the last written page he found an entry 
which made him start. For there again were the 
initials ! 

" — M. & C. — fraud — hldg. soc. — WUchester Assizes 
— 51 — £2000 — ^money never recovered — 2 yrs. — ^K. 
pres.'* 

Not much — ^but Brereton hastily copied that entry. 
And he had just written the last word when the su- 
perintendent came back' into the room with a man who 
was in railway uniform. 

"Come in here," the superintendent was saying. 
"You can tell me what it is before this gentleman. 
Some news from High Gill junction, Mr. Brereton," 
he went on, "something about Stoner. Well, my lad, 
what is it?" 



THE MEDICAL OPINION 169 

**Tlie station-maister sent me over on his bicycle," 
replied the visitor. "We heard over there this after- 
noon about Stoner's body being found, and that you 
Were thinking he must have fallen over into the 
quarry in the darkness. And we know over yonder 
that that's not likely." 

* 'Aye ? ' ' said the superintendent. * '"Well, as a mat- 
ter of fact, my lad, we weren't thinking that, but no 
doubt that rumour's got out. Now why do you rail- 
Way folks know it isn't likely?" 

' ' That 's what I 've come to tell, ' ' answered the man, 
a sharp, intelligent-looking fellow. **I'm ticket-col- 
lector over there, as you know, sir. Now, young 
Stoner came to the junction on Saturday afternoon 
and booked for Darlington, and of course went to 
Darlington. He came back yesterday afternoon — 
Sunday — by the train that gets to our junction at 3.3. 
I took his ticket. Instead of going out of the station 
by the ordinary way, he got over the fence on the 
down line side, saying to me that he'd take a straight 
cut across the moor to Highmarket. I saw him going^ 
Highmarket way for some distance. And he'd be at 
Hobwick Quarry by 4.30 at the latest — ^long before 
darkness." 

"Just about sunset, as a matter of fact," remarked 
the superintendent. "The sun sets about 4.18." 

"So he couldn't have fallen over in the darkness," 
continued the ticket-collector. "If all had gone well 
with him, he'd have been down in Highmarket here 
by dusk." 

"I'm obliged to you," said the superintendent. 



170 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

**It's worth knowing, of course. Came from Darling- 
ton, eh? Was he alone?** 

"Quite alone, sir." 

"You didn't see anybody else going that way across 
the moors, did you? Didn't notice anybody follow- 
ing him?" 

"No," replied the ticket-collector with decision. 
"Me and one of my mates watched him a long way, 
and I'll swear there was no one near him till he was 
out of sight. We didn't watch him on purpose, 
neither. When the down-train had gone, me and my 
mate sat down to smoke our pipes, and from where we 
were we could see right across the moors in this direc- 
tion. We saw Stoner — ^now and then, you under- 
stand — right away* to Chat Bank." 

"You didn't notice any suspicious characters come 
to your station that afternoon or evening ? ' ' asked the 
superintendent. 

The ticket-collector replied that nothing of that sort 
had been seen, and he presently went away. And 
Brereton, after an unimportant word or two, went 
away too, certain by that time that the death of 
Stoner had some sinister connexion with the murder 
of Kitely. 



CHAPTER XVlll 

THE SCRAP BOOK 

Brereton went back to his friend's house more puz- 
zled than ever by the similarity of the entries in 
Kitely's memoranda and in Stoner's pocket-book. 
Bent had gone over to Norcaster that afternoon, on 
business, and was not to be home until late in the 
evening: Brereton accordingly dined alone and had 
ample time to reflect and to think. The reflecting and 
the thinking largely took the form of speculating — 
on the fact that certain terms and figures which had 
been set down by Kitely had also been set down by 
Stoner. There were the initials — M. & C. There was 
a date — if it was a date — 81. What in Kitely's memo- 
randum the initials S. B. might mean, it was useless 
to guess at. His memorandum, indeed, was as cryp- 
tic as an Egyptian hieroglyph. But Stoner 's memo- 
randum was fuller, more explicit. The M. & C. of the 
Kitely entry had been expanded to Mallows and Chid- 
forth. The entry "fraud" and the other entries 
"Wilchester Assizes" and the supplementary words, 
clearly implied that two men named Mallows and 
Chidforth were prosecuted at Wilchester Assizes in 
the year 1881 for fraud, that a sum of £2,000 was in- 
volved, which was never recovered, that Mallows and 

171 



172 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

Chidforth, whoever they were, were convicted and 
were sentenced to two years* imprisonment. So much 
for Stoner's memorandum. But did it refer to the 
Bame event to which Kitely made reference in his 
memorandum ? It seemed highly probable that it did. 
It seemed highly probable, too, that the M. & C. of 
Kitely 's entry were the Mallows & Chidforth of 
Stoner's. And now the problem narrowed to one 
most serious and crucial point — were the Mallows and 
Chidforth of these references the Mallalieu and Coth- 
erstone of Highmarket. 

Speculating on this possibility, Brereton after his 
solitary dinner went into Bent's smoking-room, and 
throwing himself into a chair before the fire, lighted 
his pipe and proceeded to think things out. It was 
abundantly clear to him by that time that Kitely and 
Stoner had been in possession of a secret: it seemed 
certain that both had been murdered by some person 
who desired to silence them. There was no possible 
doubt as to Kitely 's murder : from what Brereton had 
heard that afternoon there seemed to be just as little 
doubt that Stoner had also been murdered. He had 
heard what the local medical men had to say — one and 
all agreed that though the clerk had received injuries 
in his fall which would produce almost instantaneous 
death he had received a mortal blow before he fell. 
"Who struck that blow? Everything seemed to point 
to the fact that the man who struck it was the man 
who strangled Kitely — a man of great muscular 
power. 

Glancing around the room as he sat in a big easy 
chair, his hands behind his head, Brereton 's eyes fell 



THE SCRAP BOOK 173 

suddenly on Kitely's legacy to Windle Bent. The 
queer-looking old volume which, because of its black 
calf binding and brass clasp, might easily have been 
taken for a prayer-book, lay just where Bent had set 
it down on his desk when Christopher Pett formally 
handed it over — so far as Brereton knew Bent up to 
now had never even opened it. And it was with no 
particular motive that Brereton now reached out and 
picked it up, and unsnapping the clasp began idly 
to turn over the leaves on which the old detective had 
pasted cuttings from newspapers and made entries 
in his crabbed handwriting. Brereton believed that 
he was idly handling what Pett had jocosely de- 
scribed the book to be — a mere scrap-book. It never 
entered his head that he held in his hands almost 
the whole solution of the mystery which was puz- 
zling him. 

No man knows how inspiration comes to him, and 
Brereton never knew how it was that suddenly, in the 
flash of an eye, in the swiftness of thought, he knew 
that he had found what he wanted. Suggestion might 
have had something to do with it. Kitely had writ- 
ten the word Scrap-hook on the first blank page. Af- 
terwards, at the tops of pages, he had filled in dates 
in big figures— for reference— 1875— 1879— 1887— 
and so on. And Brereton suddenly saw, and under- 
stood, and realized. The cryptic entry in Kitely's 
pocket-book became plain as the plainest print. 
M. (& C. V. 8, B. dr. 81 :— Brereton could amplify that 
now. Kitely, like all men who dabble in antiquarian 
pursuits, knew a bit of Latin, and naturally made an 
occasional airing of his knowledge. The full entry, 



174» THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

of course, meant M. &. C. vide (=see) Scrap-Book 
circa (= about) 1881. 

"With a sharp exclamation of delight, Brereton 
turned over the pages of that queer record of crime 
and detection until he came to one over which the 
figure 1881 stood out boldly. A turn or two more of 
pages, and he had found what he wanted. There it 
was — a long cutting from what was evidently a local 
newspaper — a cutting which extended over two or 
three leaves of the book — and at the end a memoran- 
dum in Kitely's handwriting, evidently made some 
years before. The editor of that local newspaper had 
considered the case which Kitely had so carefully 
scissored from his columns worthy of four headlines 
in big capitals: — 

THE BUILDING SOCIETY DEFALCATIONS 

MALLOWS AND CHIDFORTH AT THE 

WILCHESTER ASSIZES 

VERDICT AND SENTENCE 

Brereton settled down to a careful reading of the 
report. There was really nothing very remarkable 
about it — ^nothing exciting nor sensational. It was 
indeed no more than a humdrum narrative of a vulgar 
crime. But it was necessary that he should know 
all about it, and be able to summarize it, and so he 
read it over with unusual care. It was a very plain 
story — there were no complications. It appeared 
from the evidence adduced that for some time previous 
to 1881 there had been in existence in Wilchester a 
building society, the members of which were chiefly of 



THE SCRAP BOOK 176 

the small tradesman and better-class working-man or- 
der. Its chief officials for a year or two had been 
John Mallows and Mark Chidforth, who were respec- 
tively treasurer and secretary. Mallows was fore- 
man to a builder in the town ; Chidforth was clerk to 
the same employer. Both were young men. They 
were evidently regarded as smart fellows. Up to the 
time of the revelations they had borne the very best 
of characters. Each had lived in Wilchester since 
childhood ; each had continued his education at night 
schools and institute classes after the usual elemen- 
tary school days were over ; each was credited with an 
ambitious desire to rise in the world. Each, as a 
.young man, was attached to religious organizations — 
Mallows was a sidesman at one of the churches, Chid- 
forth was a Sunday-school teacher at one of the chap- 
els. Both had been fully and firmly trusted, and it 
appeared from the evidence that they had had what 
practically amounted to unsupervised control of the 
building society's funds. And — ^the really important 
point — there was no doubt whatever that they had 
helped themselves to some two thousand pounds of 
their fellow-members' money. 

All this was clear enough: it took little time for 
Brereton to acquaint himself with these facts. What 
was not so clear was the whereabouts or disposal of 
the money. From the evidence there appeared to be 
two conflicting notions current in "Wilchester at the 
time. Some people apparently believed confidently 
that the two culprits had lost the money in secret 
speculation and in gambling: other people were just 
as certain that they had quietly put the money away 



176 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

in Bome safe quarter. The prisoners themselves ab- 
solutely refused to give the least scrap of informa- 
tion: ever since their arrest they had maintained a 
stolid silence and a defiant demeanour. More than 
once during the progress of the trial they had oj)- 
portunities of making clean breasts of their misdoings 
and refused to take them. Found guilty, they were 
put back until next day for sentence — ^that, of course, 
was to give them another chance of saying what they 
had done with the money. But they had kept up 
their silence to the end, and they had been sentenced 
to two years' imprisonment, with hard labour, and 
so had disappeared from public view, with their 
secret — if there really was a secret — intact. 

So much for the newspaper cutting from the WU- 
chester Sentinel. But there was more to read. The 
cutting came to an end on the top half of a page in 
the scrap-book ; underneath it on the blank half of the 
page Kitely had made an entry, dated three years 
after the trial. 

"Wilchester: June 28,. 1884. Re above. Came 
down here on business today and had a talk with 
police about M. & C. and the money. M. & C. never 
been heard of since their release. Were released at 
same time, and seen in the town an hour or two later, 
after which they disappeared — a man who spoke to 
M. says that M. told him they were going to emigrate. 
They are believed to have gone to Argentine. Both 
had relatives in Wilchester, but either they don't 
know anything of M. & C.'s subsequent doings, or 
they keep silence. No further trace of money, and 
opinion still divided as to what they really did with 



THE SCRAP BOOK 177 

it : many people in W. firmly convinced that they had 
it safely planted, and have gone to it. ' ' 

To Brereton the whole affair was now as plain as 
a pikestaff. The old detective, accidentally settling 
down at Highmarket, had recognized Mallalieu and 
Cotherstone, the prosperous tradesmen of that little, 
out-of-the-way town, as the Mallows and Chidforth 
whom he had seen in the dock at Wilchester, and he 
had revealed his knowledge to one or the other or 
both. That was certain. But there were many things 
that were far from certain. What had happened 
when Kitely revealed himself as a man who had been 
a witness of their conviction in those far-off days? 
How had he revealed himself? Had he endeavoured 
to blackmail them ? It was possible. 

But there was still more to think over. How had 
the dead clerk, Stoner, got his knowledge of this 
great event in the life of his employers ? Had he got 
it from Kitely? That was not likely. Yet Stoner 
had written down in his pocket-book an entry which 
was no more and no less than a precis of the absolute 
facts. Somehow, somewhere, Stoner had made him- 
self fully acquainted with Mallalieu and Cotherstone 's 
secret. Did Stoner 's death arise out of a knowledge 
of that secret? On the face of things there could be 
little doubt that it did. Who, then, struck the blow 
which killed Stoner, or, if it did not actually kill him, 
caused his death by bringing about the fall which 
broke his neck? Was it Mallalieu? — or was it Coth- 
erstone ? 

. That one or other, or both, were guilty of Kitely 's 
murder, and possibly of Stoner 's, Brereton was by 



178 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

that time absolutely certain. And realizing that cer- 
tainty, he felt himself placed in a predicament which 
could not fail to be painful. It was his duty, as 
counsel for an innocent man, to press to the full his 
inquiries into the conduct of men whom he believed 
to be guilty. In this he was faced with an unpleas- 
ant situation. He cared nothing about Mallalieu. If 
Mallalieu was a guilty man, let Mallalieu pay the 
richly-deserved consequences of his misdeeds. Brere- 
ton, without being indifferent or vindictive or callous, 
Imew that it would not give him one extra heart- 
throb if he heard Mallalieu found guilty and sentenced 
to the gallows. But Cotherstone was the father of 
the girl to whom Windle Bent was shortly to be mar- 
ried — and Bent and Brereton had been close friends 
ever since they first went to school together. 

It was a sad situation, an unpleasant thing to face. 
He had come on a visit to Bent, he had prolonged 
that visit in order to defend a man whom he firmly 
believed to be as innocent as a child — and now he was 
to bring disgrace and shame on a family with whom 
his host and friend was soon to be allied by the closest 
of ties. But — better that than that an innocent man 
should suffer! And walking up and down Bent's 
smoking-room, and thinking the whole thing through 
and through, he half made up his mind to tell Bent all 
about it when he returned. 

Brereton presently put on hat and coat and left 
the house. It was then half-past seven; a sharp, 
frosty November evening, with an almost full moon 
rising in a clear, star-sprinkled sky. The sudden 
change from the warmth of the house to the frost- 



THE SCRAP BOOK 179 

laden atmosphere of the hillside quickened his mental 
faculties; he lighted his pipe, and resolved to take 
a brisk walk along the road which led out of High- 
market and to occupy himself with another review of 
the situation. A walk in the country by day or night 
and in solitude had always had attractions for Brere- 
ton and he set out on this with zest. But he had not 
gone a hundred yards in the direction of the moors 
when Avice Harborough came out of the gate of 
Northrop 's garden and met him. 

**I was coming to see you," she said quietly. "I 
have heard something that I thought you ought to 
hear, too — at once." 

"Yes?" responded Brereton. 

Avice drew an envelope from her muff and gave 
it to him. 

"A boy brought that to me half an hour ago," she 
said. "It is from an old woman, Mrs. Hamthwaite, 
who lives in a very lonely place on the moors up 
above Hobwick Quarry. Can you read it in this 
light?" 

**I will," answered Brereton, drawing a scrap of 
paper from the envelope. *'Here," he went on, giv- 
ing it back to Avice, *'you hold it, and I'll strike a 
match — the moonlight's scarcely strong enough. 
Now," he continued, taking a box of vestas from his 
pocket and striking one, "steady — *If Miss Harbor- 
ough will come up to see Susan Hamthwaite I will tell 
you something that you might like to know.' Ah!" 
he exclaimed, throwing away the match. "Now, how 
far is it to this old woman's cottage?" 

"Two miles," replied Avice. 



180 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

"Can you go there now?" he asked. 

"I thought of doing so," she answered. 

"Come along, then," said Brereton. "We'll go 
together. If she objects to my presence I'll leave you 
with her and wait about for you. Of course, she 
wants to tell you something relating to your father." 

"You think so?" said Avice. "I only hope it is!" 

"Certain to be," he replied. "What else could it 
be?" 

"There are so many strange things to tell about, 
just now," she remarked. "Besides, if old Mrs. 
Hamthwaite knows anything, why hasn't she let me 
know until tonight?" 

"Oh, there's no accounting for that!" said Brere- 
ton. "Old women have their own way of doing 
things. By the by," he continued, as they turned 
out of the road and began to climb a path which led 
to the first ridge of the moors outside the town, "I 
haven't seen you today — you've heard of this Stoner 
affair?" 

' ' Mr. Northrop told me this afternoon, ' ' she replied. 
"What do you think about it?" 

Brereton walked on a little way without replying. 
He was asking a serious question of himself. Should 
he tell aU he knew to Aviee Harborough? 



CHAPTEB XIX 

A TALL MAN IN GREY CLOTHES 

That question remained unanswered, and Brereton 
remained silent, until he and Avice had reached the 
top of the path and had come out on the edge of the 
wide stretch of moorland above the little town. He 
paused for a moment and looked back on the roofs and 
gables of Highmarket, shining and glittering in the 
moonlight; the girl paused too, wondering at his si- 
lence. And with a curious abruptness he suddenly 
turned, laid a hand on her arm, and gave it a firm, 
quick pressure. 

''Look here!" he said. "I'm going to trust you. 
I'm going to say to you what I haven't said to a soul 
in that town! — not even to Tallington, who's a man 
of the law, nor to Bent, who's my old friend. I 
want to say something to somebody whom I can trust. 
I can trust you ! ' ' 

** Thank you," she answered quietly. "I — I think 
I understand. And you'll understand, too, won't 
you, when I say — ^you can!" 

** That's aU right," he said, cheerfully. '*0f 
course! Now we understand each other. Come on, 
then — you know the way — act as guide, and I'll tell 
you as we go along." 

Avice turned off into what appeared to be no more 

181 



182 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

than a sheep-track across the heather. Within a few 
minutes they were not only quite alone, but out of 
sight of any human habitation. It seemed to Brereton 
that they were suddenly shut into a world of their 
own, as utterly apart from the little world they had 
just left as one star is from another. But even as 
he thought this he saw, far away across the rising and 
falling of the heather-clad undulations, the moving 
lights of a train that was speeding southward along 
the coast-line from Norcaster, and presently the long 
scream of a whistle from its engine came on the light 
breeze that blew inland from the hidden sea, and the 
sight and sound recalled him to the stem realities of 
life. 

* ' Listen, then, carefully, ' ' he began. ' ' And bear in 
mind that I'm putting what I believe to be safety of 
other men in your hands. It's this way. ..." 

Avice Harborough listened in absolute silence as 
Brereton told her his carefully arranged story. They 
walked slowly across the moor as he told it ; now dip- 
ping into a valley, now rising above the ridge of a low 
hill; sometimes pausing altogether as he impressed 
some particular point upon her. In the moonlight he 
could see that she was listening eagerly and intently, 
but she never interrupted him and never asked a ques- 
tion. And at last, just as they came in sight of a 
light that burned in the window of a little moorland 
cottage, snugly planted in a hollow beneath the ridge 
which they were then traversing, he brought his story 
to an end and turned inquiringly to her. 

* * There ! " he said. * ' That 's all. Now try to con- 



A TALL MAN IN GREY CLOTHES 183 

eider it without prejudice — if you can. How does it 
appear to you ? ' ' 

Instead of replying directly the girl walked on in 
silence for a moment or two, and suddenly turned to 
Brereton with an impulsive movement. 

"You've given me your confidence and I'll give 
you mine!" she exclaimed. "Perhaps I ought to 
have given it before — to you or to Mr. Tallington — 
but — I didn't like. I've wondered about Mallalieul 
"Wondered if — if he did kill that old man. And won- 
dered if he tried to put the blame on my father out 
of revenge!" 

"Revenge!" exclaimed Brereton. "What do you 
mean?" 

"My father offended him — not so very long ago, 
either," she answered. "Last year — I'll tell you it 
aU, plainly — Mr. Mallalieu began coming to our cot- 
tage at times. First he came to see my father about 
killing the rats which had got into his out-buildings. 
Then he made excuses — he used to come, any way — at 
night. He began to come when my father was out, 
as he often was. He would sit down and smoke and 
talk. I didn't like it — I don't like him. Then he 
used to meet me in the wood in the Shawl, as I came 
home from the Northrops'. I complained to my 
father about it and one night my father came in and 
found him here. My father, Mr. Brereton, is a very 
queer man and a very plain-spoken man. He told 
Mr. Mallalieu that neither of us desired his company 
and told him to go away. And Mr. Mallalieu lost his 
temper and said angry things." 



184 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

"And your father?" said Brereton. ''Did he lose 
his temper, too?" 

"No!" replied Avice. "He has a temper — ^but he 
kept it that night. He never spoke to Mr. Mallalieu 
in return. He let him say his say — ^until he'd got 
across the threshold, and then he just shut the door 
on him. But — I know how angry Mr. Mallalieu was. ' ' 

Brereton stood silently considering matters for a 
moment. Then he pointed to the light in the window 
beneath them, and moved towards it. 

"I'm glad you told me that," he said. "It may 
account for something that 's puzzled me a great deal — 
I must think it out. But at present — is that the 
old woman's lamp?" 

Avice led the way down to the hollow by a narrow 
path which took them into a little stone-walled en- 
closure where a single Scotch fir-tree stood sentinel 
over a typical moorland homestead of the smaller 
sort — a one-storied house of rough stone, the roof of 
which was secured from storm and tempest by great 
boulders slung on stout ropes, and having built on to 
it an equally rough shelter for some small stock of 
cows and sheep. Out of a sheer habit of reflection 
on things newly seen, Brereton could not avoid won- 
dering what life was like, lived in this solitude, and 
in such a perfect hermitage — but his speculations were 
cut short by the opening of the door set deep within 
the whitewashed porch. An old woman, much bent 
by age, looked out upon him and Avice, holding a 
small lamp so that its light fell on their faces. 

"Come your ways in, joy!" she said hospitably. 
"I was expecting you'd come up tonight: I knew 



A TALL MAN IN GREY CLOTHES 185 

you'd want to have a word with me as soon as you 
could. Come in and sit you down by the fire — it's 
coldish o' nights, to be sure, and there's frost in the 
air. 

"This gentleman may come in, too, mayn't he, 
Mrs. Hamthwaite?" asked Avice as she and Brere- 
ton stepped within the porch. "He's the lawyer- 
gentleman who's defending my father — ^you won't 
mind speaking before him, will you?" 

"Neither before him, nor behind him, nor yet to 
him," answered Mrs. Hamthwaite with a chuckle. 
"I've talked to lawyers afore today, many's the time! 
Come your ways in, sir — sit you down." 

She carefully closed the door on her guests and 
motioned them to seats by a bright fire of turf, and 
then setting the lamp on the table, seated herself in a 
corner of her long-settle and folding her hands in her 
apron took a long look at her visitors through a pair 
of unusually large spectacles. And Brereton, gen- 
uinely interested, took an equally long look at her,- 
and saw a woman who was obviously very old but 
whose face was eager, intelligent, and even vivacious. 
As this queer old face turned from one to the other, 
its wrinkles smoothed out into a smile. 

"You'll be wondering what I've got to tell, love," 
said Mrs. Hamthwaite, turning to Avice. "And no 
doubt you want to know why I haven't sent for you 
before now. But you see, since that affair happened 
down your way, I been away. Aye, I been to see 
my daughter — as lives up the coast. And I didn't 
come home till today. And I'm no hand at writing 
letters. However here we are, and better late than 



186 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

never and no doubt this lawyer gentleman I! be glad 
to hear what I can tell him and you." 

* * Very glad indeed ! ' ' responded Brereton. * * What 
is it?" 

The old woman turned to a box which stood in a 
recess in the ingle-nook at her elbow and took from 
it a folded newspaper. 

'*Me and my daughter and her husband read this 
here account o' the case against Harborough as it was 
put before the magistrates," she said. "We studied 
it. Now you want to know where Harborough was on 
the night that old fellow was done away with. That's 
it, master, what?" 

''That is it," answered Brereton, pressing his arm 
against Avice, who sat close at his side. "Yes, in- 
deed ! And you ' ' 

"I can tell you where Harborough was between nine 
o'clock and ten o'clock that night," replied Mrs. 
Hamthwaite, with a smile that was not devoid of 
cunning. "I know, if nobody else knows!'* 

"Where, then?" demanded Brereton. 

The old woman leaned forward across the hearth. 

"Up here on the moor!" she whispered. "Not 
five minutes' walk from here. At a bit of a place — 
Miss there'll know it — called Good Folks' Lift. A 
little rise i' the ground where the fairies used to 
dance, you know, master." 

"You saw him?" asked Brereton. 

"I saw him," chuckled Mrs. Hamthwaite. "And 
if I don't know him, why then, his own daughter 
doesn't!" 

"You'd better tell us all about it," said Brereton. 



A TALL MAN IN GREY CLOTHES 187 

Mrs. Hamthwaite gave him a sharp look. **I*ve 
given evidence to law folks before today," she said. 
''You'll want to know what I could tell before a 
judge, like?" 

"Of course," replied Brereton. 

"Well, then " she continued. "You see, mas- 
ter, since my old man died, I've lived all alone up 
here. I've a bit to live on — not over much, but 
enough. All the same, if I can save a bit by getting 
a hare or a rabbit, or a bird or two now and then, 
off the moor — well, I do ! We all of us does that, 
as lives on the moor: some folks calls it poaching, 
but we call it taking our own. Now then, on that 
night we're talking about, I went along to Good 
Folks' Lift to look at some snares I'd set early that 
day. There's a good deal of bush and scrub about 
that place — I was amongst the bushes when I heard 
steps, and I looked out and saw a tall man in grey 
clothes coming close by. How did I know he were 
in grey clothes? Why, 'cause he stopped close by 
me to light his pipe! But he'd his back to me, so 
I didn't see his full face, only a side of it. He were 
a man with a thin, greyish beard. Well, he walks past 
there, not far — and then I heard other steps. Then 
I heard your father's voice, miss — and I see the two 
of 'em meet. They stood, whispering together, for 
a minute or so — ^then they came back past me, and 
they went off across the moor towards Hexendale. 
And soon they were out of sight, and when I'd fin- 
ished what I was after I came my ways home. That 's 
, all, master — but if yon old man was killed down in 
Highmarket Shawl Wood between nine and ten 



188 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

o'clock that night, then Jack Harborough didn't kill 
him, for Jack was up here at soon after nine, and him 
and the tall man went away in the opposite direc- 
tion!" 

''You're sure about the time?" asked Brereton 
anxiously. 

' ' Certain, master ! It was ten minutes to nine when 
I went out — nearly ten when I come back. My clock's 
always right — I set it by the almanack and the sun- 
rise and sunset every day — and you can't do better," 
asserted Mrs. Hamthwaite. 

"You're equally sure about the second man being 
Harborough?" insisted Brereton. "You couldn't be 
mistaken?" 

"Mistaken? No! — master, I know Harborough 's 
voice, and his figure, aye, and his step as well as I 
know my own fireside," declared Mrs. Hamthwaite. 
"Of course I know it were Harborough — no doubt 
on't!" 

"How are you sure that this was the evening of the 
murder?" asked Brereton. "Can you prove that it 
was?" 

"Easy!" said Mrs. Hamthwaite. "The very next 
morning I went away to see my daughter up the 
coast. I heard of the old man 's murder at High Gill 
Junction. But I didn't hear then that Harborough 
was suspected — didn't hear that till later on, when we 
read it in the newspapers. ' ' 

"And the other man — ^the tall man in grey clothes, 
who has a slightly grey beard — ^you didn't know 
him?" 



A TALL MAN IN GREY CLOTHES 189 

Mrs. Hamthwaite made a face which seemed to 
suggest uncertainty. 

"Well, I'll tell you," she answered. "I believe 
him to be a man that I have seen about this here neigh- 
bourhood two or three times during this last eighteen 
months or so. Jf you really want to know, I'm a 
good deal about them moors o' nights; old as I am, 
I'm very active, and I go about a goodish bit — why 
not? And I have seen a man about now and then — 
months between, as a rule — that I couldn't account 
for — and I believe it's this fellow that was with 
Ilarborough. ' ' 

"And you say they went away in the direction of 
Hexendale?" said Brereton. "Where is Hexen- 
dale?" 

The old woman pointed westward. 

"Inland," she answered. "Over yonder. Miss 
there knows Hexendale well enough." 

"Hexendale is a valley — with a village of the same 
name in it — that lies about five miles away on the 
other side of the moors," said Avice. "There's an- 
other line of railway there — this man Mrs. Ham- 
thwaite speaks of could come and go by that." 

"Well," remarked Brereton presently, "we're very 
much obliged to you, ma'am, and I'm sure you won't 
have any objection to telling all this again at the 
proper time and place, eh?" 

"Eh, bless you, no!" answered Mrs, Hamthwaite. 
"I'll tell it wherever you like, master — before Lawyer 
Tallington, or the magistrates, or the crowner, or 
anybody! But I'll tell you what, if you'll take a bit 



190 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

of advice from an old woman — you 're a sharp-looking 
young man, and I'll tell you what I should do if 
I were in your place — now then ! ' ' 

''Well, what?" asked Brereton good-humouredly. 

Mrs. Hamthwaite clapped him on the shoulder as 
she opened the door for her visitors. 

"Find that tall man in the grey clothes!" she said. 
**Get hold of him! He's the chap you want!" 

Brereton went silently away, meditating on the old 
woman's last words. 

"But wjiere are we to find him?" he suddenly ex- 
claimed. "Who is he?" 

"I don't think that puzzles me," remarked Avice. 
"He's the man who sent the nine hundred pounds." 

Brereton smote his stick on the heather at their 
feet. 

"By George! — I never thought of that!" he ex- 
claimed, "I shouldn't wonder! — I shouldn't won- 
der at all. Hooray ! — we 're getting nearer and nearer 
to something." 

But he knew that still another step wa^ at hand — 
an unpleasant, painful step — when, on getting back 
to Bent's, an hour later. Bent told him that Lettie 
had been cajoled into fixing the day of the wedding, 
and that the ceremony was to take place with the 
utmost privacy that day week. 



CHAPTER XX 

AT BAY 

It was only by an immense effort of will that Brere- 
ton prevented an exclamation and a start of surprise. 
But of late he had been perpetually on the look-out for 
all sorts of unforeseen happenings and he managed to 
do no more than show a little natural astonishment. 

**What, so soon!" he said. "Dear me, old chap! — 
I didn't think of its being this side of Christmas." 

* ' Cotherstonerfs set on it," answered Bent. "He 
seems to be turning into a regular hypochondriac. 
I hope nothing is really seriously wrong with him. 
But anyway — this day week. And you'll play your 
part of best man, of course." 

"Oh, of course!" agreed Brereton. "And then 
— are you going away?" 

"Yes, but not for as long as we'd meant," said 
Bent. "We'll run down to the Riviera for a few 
weeks — I've made all my arrangements today. Well, 
any fresh news about this last bad business? This 
Stoner affair, of course, has upset Cotherstone dread- 
fully. When is all this mystery coming to an end, 
Brereton ? There is one thing dead certain — Harbor- 
ough isn't guilty in this case. That is, if Stoner 
really was killed by the blow they talk of. ' ' 

191 



192 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

But Brereton refused to discuss matters that night. 
He pleaded fatigue, he "had been at it all day long, he 
said, and his brain was confused and tired and needed 
rest. And presently he went off to his room — and 
when he got there he let out a groan of dismay. For 
one thing was imperative — Bent's marriage must not 
take place while there was the least chance of a ter- 
rible charge being suddenly let loose on Cotherstone. 

He rose in the morning with his mind made up on 
the matter. There was but one course to adopt — 
and it must be adopted immediately. Cotherstone 
must be spoken to — Cotherstone must be told of what 
some people at any rate knew about him and his 
antecedents. Let him have a chance to explain him- 
self. After all, he might have some explanation. 
But — and here Brereton 's determination became fixed 
and stern — it must be insisted upon that he should tell 
Bent everything. 

Bent always went out very early in the morning, 
to give an eye to his business, and he usually break- 
fasted at his office. That was one of the mornings on 
which he did not come back to the house, and Brere- 
ton accordingly breakfasted alone, and had not seen 
his host when he, too, set out for the town. He had 
already decided what to do — he would tell everything 
to Tallington. Tallington was a middle-aged man of 
a great reputation for common-sense and for probity; 
as a native of the town, and a dweller in it all his 
life, he knew Cotherstone well, and he would give 
sound advice as to what methods should be followed 
in dealing with him. And so to Tallington Brereton, 
arriving just after the solicitor had finished reading 



AT BAY 193 

his morning's letters, poured out the whole story 
which he had learned from the ex-detective's scrap- 
book ond from the memorandum made by Stoner in 
his pocket-book. 

Tallington listened with absorbed attention, his face 
growing graver and graver as Brereton marshalled the 
facts and laid stress on one point of evidence after 
another. He was a good listener — a steady, watch- 
ful listener — Brereton saw that he was not only tak- 
ing in every fact and noting every point, but was also 
weighing up the mass of testimony. And when the 
story came to its end he spoke with decision, spoke, 
too, just as Brereton expected he would, making no 
comment, offering no opinion, but going straight to 
the really critical thing. 

* ' There are only two things to be done, ' ' said Tal- 
lington. ** They 're the only things that can be done. 
We must send for Bent, and tell him. Then we must 
get Cotherstone here, and tell him. No other course 
— ^none!" 

"Bent first?" asked Brereton. 

"Certainly! Bent first, by all means. It's due 
to him. Besides, ' ' said Tallington, with a grim smile, 
"it would be decidedly unpleasant for Cotherstone to 
compel him to tell Bent, or for us to tell Bent in 
Cotherstone 's presence. And — we'd better get to 
work at once, Brereton } Otherwise — this will get out 
in another way." 

"You mean — through the police? "'said Brereton. 

"Surely!" replied Tallington. "This can't be 
kept in a comer. For anything we know somebody 
may be at work, raking it all up, just now. Do you 



194 THE BOROUGH, TREASURER 

suppose that unfortunate lad Stoner kept his knowl- 
edge to himself? I don't! No — at once! Come, 
Bent's oflSce is only a minute away — I'll send one of 
my clerks for him. Painful, very — but necessary. ' * 

The first thing that Bent's eyes encountered when 
he entered Tallington's private room ten minutes 
later was the black-bound, brass-clasped scrap-book, 
which Brereton had carried down with him and had 
set on the solicitor's desk. He started at the sight of 
it, and turned quickly from one man to the other. 

"What's that doing here?" he asked, "is — have 
you made some discovery? Why am I wanted?" 

Once more Brereton had to go through the story. 
But his new listener did not receive it in the calm 
and phlegmatic fashion in which it had been received 
by the practised ear of the man of law. Bent was at 
first utterly incredulous; then indignant: he inter- 
rupted; he asked questions which he evidently be- 
lieved to be difficult to answer ; he was fighting — and 
both his companions, sympathizing keenly with him, 
knew why. But they never relaxed their attitude, 
and in the end Bent looked from one to the other with 
a cast-down countenance in which doubt was begin- 
ning to change into certainty. 

"You're convinced of — all this?" he demanded 
suddenly. "Both of you? It's your conviction?" 

"It's mine," answered Tallington quietly. 

"I'd give a good deal for your sake, Bent, if it 
were not mine," said Brereton. "But — ^it is mine. 
I 'm — sure ! ' ' 

Bent jumped from his chair. 

' ' Which of them is it, then ?" he exclaimed. * ' Gad ! 



AT BAY 195 

— ^you don't mean to say that Cotherstone is — a mur- 
derer! Good heavens! — ^think of what that would 
mean to — to " 

Tallington got up and laid a hand on Bent's arm. 

"We won't say or think anything until we hear 
what Cotherstone has to say," he said. "I'll step 
along the street and fetch him, myself. I know he'll 
be alone just now, because I saw Mallalieu go into 
the Town Hall ten minutes ago — there's an important 
committee meeting there this morning over which he 
has to preside. Pull yourself tc^ether, Bent — Coth- 
erstone may have some explanation of everything. ' ' 

Mallalieu & Cotherstone 's office was only a few 
yards away along the street ; Tallington was back from 
it with Cotherstone in five minutes. And Brereton, 
looking closely at Cotherstone as he entered and saw 
who awaited him, was certain that Cotherstone was 
ready for anything. A sudden gleam of understand- 
ing came into his sharp eyes; it was as if he said to 
himself that here was a moment, a situation, a crisis, 
which he had anticipated, and — he was prepared. It 
was an outwardly calm and cool Cotherstone, who, 
with a quick glance at all three men and at the closed 
door, took the chair which Tallington handed to him, 
and turned on the solicitor with a single word. 

"Well?" 

"As I told you in coming along," said Tallington, 
"we want to speak to you privately about some infor- 
mation which has been placed in our hands — that is, of 
course, in Mr. Brereton 's and in mine. We have 
thought it well to already acquaint Mr. Bent with it. 
All this is between ourselves, Mr. Cotherstone — so 



196 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

treat us as candidly as we'll treat you. I can put 
everything to you in a few words. They're painful. 
Are you and your partner, Mr. Mallalieu, the same 
persons as the Chidf orth and Mallows who were prose- 
cuted for fraud at Wilchester Assizes in 1881 and 
sentenced to two years' imprisonment?" 

Cotherston neither started nor flinched. There was 
no sign of weakness nor of hesitation about him now. 
Instead, he seemed to have suddenly recovered all the 
sharpness and vigour with which two at any rate of 
the three men who were so intently watching him 
had always associated with him. He sat erect and 
watchful in his chair, and his voice became clear and 
strong. 

"Before I answer that question, Mr. Tallington," 
he said, "I'll ask one of Mr. Bent here. It's this — 
is my daughter going to suffer from aught that may 
or may not be raked up against her father ? Let me 
know that ! — if you want any words from me. ' ' 

Bent flushed angrily. 

"You ought to know what my answer is!" he ex- 
claimed. "It's no!" 

"That'll do!" said Cotherstone. "I know you.— 
you're a man of your word." He turned to Tailing- 
ton. "Now I'll reply to you," he went on. "My 
answer 's in one word, too. Yes ! ' ' 

Tallington opened Kitely's scrap-book at the ac- 
count of the trial at Wilchester, placed it before 
Cotherstone, and indicated certain lines with the point 
of a pencil. 

"You're the Chidf orth mentioned there ?'^ lie asked 
quietly. "And your partner's the Mallows?" 



AT BAY 197 

"That's so," replied Cotherstone, so imperturbably 
that all three looked at him in astonishment ''That's 
quite so, Mr. Tallington." 

"And this is an accurate report of what hap- 
pened?" asked Tallington, trailing the pencil over 
the newspaper. "That is, as far as you can see at 
a glance?" 

"Oh, I daresay it is," said Cotherstone, airily. 
"That was the best paper in the town — I daresay 
it's all right. Looks so, anyway." 

"You know that Kitely was present at that trial?" 
suggested Tallington, who, like Brereton, was begin- 
ning to be mystified by Cotherstone 's coolness. 

"Well," answered Cotherstone, with a shake of his 
head, * ' I know now. But I never did know until that 
afternoon of the day on which the old man was mur- 
dered If you 're wanting the truth, he came into our 
office that afternoon to pay his rent to me, and he told 
me then. And — if you want more truth — he tried 
to blackmail me. He was to come next day — at four 
o'clock — to hear what me and Mallalieu 'ud offer him 
for hush-money." 

"Then you told Mallalieu?" asked Tallington. 

"Of course I told him!" replied Cotherstone. 
"Told him as soon as Kitely had gone. It was a facer 
for both of us — to be recognized, and to have all that 
thrown up against us, after thirty years' honest 
work!" 

The three listeners looked silently at each other. 
A moment of suspence passed. Then Tallington put 
the question which all three were burning with eager- 
ness to have answered. 



198 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

"Mr. Cotherstone! — do you know who killed 
Eitely?" 

"No!" answered Cotherstone. **But I know who 
I think killed him!" 

''Who, then?" demanded Tallin^on. 

''The man who killed Bert Stoner," said Cother- 
stone firmly. "And for the same reason." 

"And this man is " 

Tallington left the question unfinished. For Coth- 
erstone 's alert face took a new and determined ex- 
pression, and he raised himself a little in his chair 
and brought his lifted hand down heavily on the 
desk at his side. 

"Mallalieu!" he exclaimed. "Mallalieu! I be- 
lieve he killed Kitely. I suspicioned it from the first, 
and I came certain of it on Sunday night. Why? 
Because I saw Mallalieu fell Stoner!" 

There was a dead silence in the room for a long, 
painful minute. Tallington broke it at last by re- 
peating Cotherstone 's last words. 

"You saw Mallalieu fell Stoner? Yourself?" 

"With these eyes! Look here!" exclaimed Coth- 
erstone, again bringing his hand down heavily on the 
desk. ' ' I went up there by Hobwick Quarry on Sun- 
day afternoon — ^to do a bit of thinking. As I got 
to that spinney at the edge of the quarry, I saw 
Mallalieu and our clerk. They were fratching — 
quarrelling — I could hear 'em as well as see 'em. And 
I slipped behind si big bush and waited and watched. 
I could see and hear, even at thirty yards off, that 
Stoner was maddening Mallalieu, though of course I 
couldn 't distinguish precise words. And all of a sud- 



AT BAY 199 

den Mallalien's temper went, and he lets out with that 
heavy oak stick of his and fetches the lad a crack 
right over his forehead — and with Stoner starting sud- 
denly back the old railings gave way and — down he 
went. That's what I saw — and I saw Mallalieu kick 
that stick into the quarry in a passion, and — I've got 
it!" 

"You've got it?" said Tallington. 

"I've got it!" repeated Cotherstone. "I watched 
Mallalieu — after this was over. Once I thought he 
«aw me — ^but he evidently decided he was alone. I 
could see he was taking on rarely. He went down 
to the quarry as it got dusk — he was there some time. 
Then at last he went away on the opposite side. And 
I went down when he'd got clear away and I went 
straight to where the stick was. And as I say, I've 
got it." 

Tallington looked at Brereton, and Brereton spoka 
for the first time. 

"Mr. Cotherstone must see that aU this should be 
told to the police," he said. 

* ' Wait a bit, ' ' replied Cotherstone. " I 've not done 
telling my tales here yet. Now that I am talking, I 
will talk ! Bent ! " he continued, turning to his future 
eon-in-law. "What I'm going to say now is for your 
benefit. But these lawyers shall hear. This old Wil- 
chester business has been raked up — how, I don't 
know. Now then, you shall all know the truth about 
that! I did two years — for what? For being Mal- 
lalien's catspaw!" 

Tallington suddenly began to drum his fingers on 
the blotting-pad which lay in front of him. From 



200 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

this point lie watched Cotherstone with an appear- 
ance of speculative interest which was not lost on 
Brereton. 

''Ah!" he remarked quietly. "You were Mal- 
lalieu's — or Mallows' — catspaw? That is — he was 
the really guilty party in the Wilchester affair, of 
which that 's an, account ? ' ' 

"Doesn't it say here that he was treasurer?" re- 
torted Cotherstone, laying his h-and on the open scrap- 
book. ' ' He was — he 'd full control of the money. He 
drew me into things — drew me into 'em in such a 
clever way that when the smash came I couldn't help 
myself. I had to go through with it. And I never 
knew until — ^until the two years was over — that Mal- 
lalieu had that money safely put away." 

"But — you got to know, eventually," remarked 
Tallington. "And — I suppose — you agreed to make 
use of it?" 

Cotherstone smote the table again. 

"Yes!" he said with some heat. "And don't you 
get any false ideas, Mr, Tallington. Bent! — I've paid 
that money back — I, myself. Each penny of it — two 
thousand pound, with four per cent, interest for 
thirty years! I've done it — Mallalieu knows naught 
about it. And here 's the receipt. So now then ! ' ' 

"When did you pay it, Mr. Cotherstone?" asked 
Tallington, as Bent unwillingly took the paper which 
Cotherstone drew from a pocket-book and handed to 
him. ' ' Some time ago, or lately ? ' ' 

"If you want to know," retorted Cotherstone, "it 
was the very day after old Kitely was killed. I 
sent it through a friend of mine who still lives in 



AT BAY 201 

Wilchester. I wanted to be done with it — I didn't 
want to have it brought up against me that anybody 
lost aught through my fault. And so — I paid." 

"But — I'm only suggesting — you could have paid 
a long time before that, couldn 't you ? ' ' said Tailing- 
ton. "The longer you waited, the more you had to 
pay. Two thousand pounds, with thirty years' in- 
terest, at four per cent. — why, that's four thousand 
four hundred pounds altogether!" 

"That's what he paid," said Bent. "Here's the 
receipt." 

"Mr. Cotherstone is telling us — privately — every- 
thing," remarked Tallington, glancing at the receipt 
and passing it on to Brereton. "I wish he'd tell us — 
privately, as I say — why he paid that money the day 
after Kitely 's murder. Why, Mr, Cotherstone ? ' ' 

Cotherstone, ready enough to answer and to speak 
until then, flushed an^ly and shook his head. But 
he was about to speak when a gentle tap came at Tal- 
lington 's door, and before the solicitor could make 
any response, the door was opened from without, and 
the police-superintendent walked in, accompanied by 
two men whom Brereton recognized as detectives from 
Norcaster. 

"Sorry to interrupt, Mr. Tallington, *' said the su- 
perintendent, * ' but I heard Mr. Cotherstone was here. 
Mr. Cotherstone! — I shall have to ask you to step 
across with me to the office, WiU you come over 
now?— it'll be best." 

"Not until I know what I'm wanted for," an- 
swered Cotherstone determinedly. "What is it?" 

The superintendent sighed and shook his head. 



202 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

'*Very well — it^s not my fault, then," he answered. 
**The fact is we want both you and Mr. Mallalieu for 
this Stoner affair. That 's the plain truth ! The war- 
rants were issued an hour ago — and we've got Mr. 
Mallalieu already. Come on, Mr. Cotherstone! — 
there's no help for it." 



/■ 

CHAPTER XXI 

THE INTERRUPTED FLIGHT 

Twenty-four hours after he had seen Stoner fall 
headlong into Hobwick Quarry, Mallalieu made up his 
mind for flight. And as soon as he had come to that 
moment of definite decision, he proceeded to arrange 
for his disappearance with all the craft and subtlety 
of which he was a past master. He would go, onee 
and for all, and since he was to go he would go in such 
a fashion that nobody should be able to trace him. 

After munching his sandwich and drinking his ale 
at the Highmarket Arms, Mallalieu had gone away to 
Hobwick Quarry and taken a careful look round. 
Just as he had expected, he found a policeman or two 
and a few gaping townsfolk there. He made no con- 
cealment of his own curiosity; he had come up, he 
said, to see what there was to be seen at the place 
where his clerk had come to this sad end. He made 
one of the policemen take him up to the broken rail- 
ings at the brink of the quarry; together they made 
a careful examination of the ground. 

"No signs of any footprints hereabouts, the super- 
intendent says," remarked Mallalieu as they looked 
around. '*You haven't seen aught of that sort!" 

*'No, your Worship — we looked for that when we 
203 



204 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

first came up," answered the policeman. ''You see 
this grass is that short and wiry that it's too full of 
spring to show marks. No, there's naught, any- 
where about — we've ked a goodish way on both 
sides." 

Mallalieu went close to the edge of the quarry and 
looked down. His sharp, ferrety eyes were searching 
everywhere for his stick. A little to the right of his 
position the side of the quarry shelved less abruptly 
than at the place where Stoner had fallen; on the 
gradual slope there, a great mass of bramble and 
gorse, broom and bracken, clustered: he gazed hard 
at it, thinking that the stick might have lodged in its 
meshes. It would be an easy thing to see that stick 
in daylight; it was a brightish yellow colour and 
would be easily distinguished against the prevalent 
greens and browns around there. But he saw nothing 
of it, and his brain, working around the event of the 
night before, began to have confused notions of the 
ringing of the stick on the lime-stone slabs at the bot- 
tom of the quarry. 

"Aye!" he said musingly, with a final look round. 
**A nasty place to fall over, and a bad job — a bad 
job! Them rails," he continued, pointing to the 
broken fencing, "why, they're rotten all through! 
If a man put his weight on them, they'd be sure to 
give way. The poor young fellow must ha* sat down 
to rest himself a bit, on the top one, and of course, 
smash they went. ' ' 

"That's what I should ha' said, your Worship," 
agreed the policeman, "but some of 'em that were 
up here seemed to think he'd been forced through 



THE INTERRUPTED FLIGHT 205 

'em, or thrown against 'em, violent, as it might be. 
They think he was struck down — from the marks of 
a blow that they found. ' ' 

"Aye, just so," said Mallalieu, "but he could get 
many blows on him as he fell down them rocks. Look 
for yourself! — there's not only rough edges of stone 
down there, but snags and roots of old trees that he 'd 
strike against in falling. Accident, my lad! — ^that's 
what it's been — sheer and pure accident." 

The policeman neither agreed with nor contradicted 
the Mayor, and presently they went down to the 
bottom of the quarry again, where Mallalieu, under 
pretence of thoroughly seeing into everything, walked 
about all over the place. He did not find the stick, 
and he was quite sure that nobody else had found it. 
Finally he went away, convinced that it lay in some 
nook or cranny of the shelving slope on to which he 
had kicked it in his sudden passion of rage. There, in 
all probability, it would remain for ever, for it would 
never occur to the police that whoever wielded what- 
ever weapon it was that struck the blow would not 
carry the weapon away with him. No — on the point 
of the stick Mallalieu began to feel easy and confident. 

He grew still easier and more confident about the 
whole thing during the course of the afternoon. He 
went about the town ; he was in and out of the Town 
Hall; he kept calling in at the police-station; he be- 
came certain towards evening that no suspicion at- 
tached to himself — as yet. But — only as yet. He 
knew something would come out. The big question 
with him as he went home in the evening was — ^was he 
safe until the afternoon of the next day? While he 



206 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

ate and drank in his lonely dining-room, he decided 
that he was ; by the time he had got through his after- 
dinner cigar he had further decided that when the 
next night came he would be safely away from High- 
market. 

But there were things to do that night. He spent 
an hour with a Bradshaw and a map. While he reck- 
oned up trains and glanced at distances and situations 
his mind was busy with other schemes, for he had all 
his life been a man who could think of more than one 
thing at once. And at the end of the hour he had 
decided on a plan of action. 

Mallalieu had two chief objects in immediate view. 
He wanted to go away openly from Highmarket with- 
out exciting suspicion: that was one. He wanted to 
make it known that he had gone to some definite 
place, on some definite mission; that was the other. 
And in reckoning up his chances he saw how fortune 
was favouring him. At that very time the High- 
market Town Council was very much concerned and 
busied about a new water-supply. There was a pro- 
ject afoot for joining with another town, some miles 
off, in establishing a new system and making a new 
reservoir on the adjacent hills, and on the very next 
morning Mallalieu himself was to preside over a spe- 
cially-summoned committee which was to debate cer- 
tain matters relating to this scheme. He saw how he 
could make use of that appointment. He would pro- 
fess that he was not exactly pleased with some of the 
provisions of the proposed amalgamation, and would 
state his intention, in open meeting, of going over in 
person to the other town that very evening to see its 



s 

THE INTERRUPTED FLIGHT 207 

authorities on the points whereon he was not satisfied- 
Nobody would see anything suspicious in his going 
away on Corporation business. An excellent plan for 
his purpose — for in order to reach the other town it 
would be necessary to pass through Norcaster, where 
he would have to change stations. Ajid Norcaster 
was a very big city, and a thickly-populated one, and 
it had some obscure parts with which Mallalieu was 
well-acquainted — and in Norcaster he could enter on 
the first important stage of his flight. 

And so, being determined, Mallalieu made his final 
preparations. They were all connected with money. 
If he felt a pang at the thought of leaving his High- 
market property behind him, it was assuaged by the 
reflection that, after all, that property only repre- 
sented the price of his personal safety — perhaps 
(though he did not like to think of that) of his life. 
Besides, events might turn out so luckily that the 
enjoyment of it might be restored to him — it was pos- 
sible. Whether that possibility ever came off or not, 
he literally dared not regard it just then. To put 
himself in safety was the one, the vital consideration. 
And his Highmarket property and his share in the 
business only represented a part of Mallalieu 's wealth. 
He could afford to do without all that he left behind 
him; it was a lot to leave, he sighed regretfully, but 
he would still be a very wealthy man if he never 
touched a pennyworth of it again. 

From the moment in which Mallalieu had dis- 
covered that Kitely knew the secret of the Wilchester 
affair he had prepared for eventualities, and Kitely 's 
death had made no difference to his plans. If one 



208 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

man could find all that out, he argued, half a dozen 
other men might find it out. The murder of the 
ex-detective, indeed, had strengthened his resolve to 
be prepared. He foresaw that suspicion might fall on 
Cotherstone; deeper reflection showed him that if 
Cotherstone became an object of suspicion he himself 
would not escape. And so he had prepared himself. 
He had got together his valuable securities ; they were 
all neatly bestowed in a stout envelope which fitted 
into the inner pocket of a waistcoat which he once had 
specially made to his own design : a cleverly arranged 
garment, in which a man could carry a lot of wealth — 
in paper. There in that pocket it all was — Govern- 
ment stock, railway stock, scrip, shares, all easily con- 
vertible, anyivhere in the world where men bought and 
sold the best of gilt-edged securities. And in another 
pocket Mallalieu had a wad of bank-notes which he 
had secured during the previous week from a London 
bank at which he kept an account, and in yet another, 
a cunningly arranged one, lined out with wash-leather, 
and secured by a strong flap, belted and buckled, he 
carried gold. 

Mallalieu kept that waistcoat and its precious con- 
tents under his pillow that night. And next morning 
he attired himself with particular care, and in the 
hip pocket of his trousers he placed a revolver which 
he had recently purchased, and for the first time for 
a fortnight he ate his usual hearty breakfast. After 
which he got into his most serviceable overcoat and 
went away townwards . . . and if anybody had been 
watching him they would have seen that Mallalieu 



THE INTERRUPTED FLIGHT 209 

never once turned his head to take a look at the house 
which he had built, and might be leaving for ever. 

Everything that Mallalieu did that morning was 
done with method. He was in and about his office 
and his yard for an hour or two, attending to business 
in his customary fashion. He saw Cotherstone, and 
did not speak to him except on absolutely necessary 
matters. No word was said by either in relation to 
Stoner's death. But about ten o'clock Mallalieu went 
across to the police-station and into the superintend- 
ent's office, and convinced himself that nothing fur- 
ther had come to light, and no new information had 
been given. The coroner's officer was with the police, 
and Mallalieu discussed with him and them some ar- 
rangements about the inquest. With every moment 
the certainty that he was safe increased — and at 
eleven o 'clock he went into the Town Hall to his com- 
mittee meeting. 

Had Mallalieu chanced to look back at the door of 
the police-station as he entered the ancient door of 
the Town Hall he would have seen three men drive 
up there in a motor-car which had come from Nor- 
caster — one of the men being Myler, and the other 
two Norcaster detectives. But Mallalieu did not look 
back. He went up to the committee-room and be- 
came absorbed in the business of the meeting. His 
fellow committee-men said afterwards that they never 
remembered the Mayor being in such fettle for busi- 
ness. He explained his objections to the scheme they 
were considering ; he pointed out this and urged that 
— finally, he said that he was so little satisfied with 



210 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

the project that he would go and see the Mayor of 
the sister town that very evening, and discuss the 
matter with him to the last detail. 

Mallalieu stepped out of the committee-room to find 
the superintendent awaiting him in the corridor. The 
superintendent was pale and trembling, and his eyes 
met Mallalieu 's with a strange, deprecating expres- 
sion. Before he could speak, two strangers emerged 
from a doorway and came close up. And a sudden 
sickening sense of danger came over Mallalieu, and his 
tongue failed him. 

"Mr. Mayor!" faltered the superintendent. '*I — 
I can't help it! These are ofiScers from Norcaster, 
sir — there's a warrant for your arrest. It's — ^it's the 
Stoner affair!" 



CHAPTER XXn 

THE HAND IN THE DAEKNESS 

The Highmarket clocks were striking noon when 
Mallalieu was arrested. For three hours he remained 
under lock and key, in a room in the Town Hall — 
most of the time alone. His lunch was brought to 
him ; every consideration was shown him. The police 
wanted to send for his solicitor from Norcaster ; Mal- 
lalieu bade them mind their own business. He turned 
a deaf ear to the superintendent 's entreaties to him to 
see some friend; let him mind his own business too, 
said Mallalieu. He himself would do nothing until 
he saw the need to do something. Let him hear what 
could be brought against him — time enough to speak 
and act then. He ate his lunch, he smoked a cigar; 
he walked out of the room with defiant eye and head 
erect when they came to fetch him before a specially 
summoned bench of his fellow-magistrates. And it 
was not until he stepped into the dock, in full view of 
a crowded court, and amidst quivering excitement, 
that he and Cotherstone met. 

The news of the partners' arrest had flown through 
the little town like wildfire. There was no need to 
keep it secret ; no reason why it should be kept secret. 

211 



212 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

It was necessary to bring the accused men before the 
magistrates as quickly as possible, and the days of 
private inquiries were long over. Before the High- 
market folk had well swallowed their dinners, every 
street in the town, every shop, office, bar-parlour, 
public-house, private house rang with the news — Mal- 
lalieu and Cotherstone, the Mayor and the Borough 
Treasurer, had been arrested for the murder of their 
clerk, and would be put before the magistrates at 
three o'clock. The Kitely affair faded into insignifi- 
cance — except amongst the cute and knowing few, who 
immediately began to ask if the Hobwick Quarry mur- 
der had anything to do with the murder on the Shawl. 
If Mallalieu and Cotherstone could have looked out 
of the windows of the court in the Town Hall, they 
would have seen the Market Square packed with a 
restless and seething crowd of townsfolk, all clamour- 
ing for whatever news could permeate from the packed 
chamber into which so few had been able to fight a 
way. But the prisoners seemed strangely indifferent 
to their surroundings. Those who watched them 
closely — as Brereton and Tallington did — noticed that 
neither took any notice of the other. Cotherstone had 
been placed in the dock first. When Mallalieu was 
brought there, a moment later, the two exchanged 
one swift glance and no more — Cotherstone immedi- 
ately moved off to the far comer on the left hand, 
Mallalieu remained in the opposite one, and placing 
his hands in the pockets of his overcoat, he squared 
his shoulders and straitened his big frame and took 
a calm and apparently contemptuous look round 
about him. 



THE HAND IN THE DARKNESS 213 

Brereton, sitting at a corner of the solicitor's table, 
and having nothing to do but play the part of spec- 
tator, watched these two men carefully and with ab- 
sorbed interest from first to last. He was soon aware 
of the vastly different feelings with which they them- 
selves watched the proceedings. Cotherstone was 
eager and restless ; he could not keep still ; he moved 
his position; he glanced about him; he looked as if 
he were on the verge of bursting into indignant or 
explanatory speech every now and then — though, as 
a matter of fact, he restrained whatever instinct he 
had in that direction. But Mallalieu never moved, 
never changed his attitude. His expression of dis- 
dainful, contemptuous watchfulness never left him — 
after the first moments and the formalities were over, 
he kept his eyes on the witness-box and on the people 
who entered it. Brereton, since his first meeting with 
Mallalieu, had often said to himself that the Mayor 
of Highmarket had the slyest eyes of any man he had 
even seen — but he was forced to admit now that, 
however sly Mallalieu 's eyes were, they could, on 
occasion, be extraordinarily steady. 

The truth was that Mallalieu was playing a part. 
He had outlined it, unconsciously, when he said to 
the superintendent that it would be time enough for 
him to do something when he knew what could be 
brought against him. And now all his attention was 
given to the two or three witnesses whom the prosecu- 
tion thought it necessary to call. He wanted to know 
who they were. He curbed his impatience while the 
formal evidence of arrest was given, but his ears 
pricked a little when he heard one of the police wit- 



214 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

nesses speak of the warrant having been issued on 
information received. What information? Received 
from whom ? He half -turned as a sharp official voice 
called the name of the first important witness. 

''David Myler!" 

Mallalieu stared at David Myler as if he would 
tear whatever secret he had out of him with a search- 
ing glance. Who was David Myler? No High- 
market man — that was certain. Who was he, then? 
— what did he know? — was he some detective who 
had been privately working up this case? A cool, 
quiet, determined-looking young fellow, any- 
way. Confound him! But — ^what had he to do 
with this? , 

Those questions were speedily answered for Malla- 
lieu. He kept his immovable attitude, his immobile 
expression, while Myler told the story of Stoner's visit 
to Darlington, and of the revelation which had re- 
sulted. And nothing proved his extraordinary com- 
mand over his temper and his feelings better than the 
fact that as Myler narrated one damning thing after 
another, he never showed the least concern or uneasi- 
ness. 

But deep within himself Mallalieu was feeling a lot. 
He knew now that he had been mistaken in thinking 
that Stoner had kept his knowledge to himself. He 
also knew what line the prosecution was taking. It 
was seeking to show that Stoner was murdered by 
Cotherstone and himself, or by one or other, sep- 
arately or in collusion, in ordet that he might be 
silenced. But he knew more than that. Long prac- 
tice and much natural inclination had taught Mai- 



THE HAND IN THE DARKNESS 216 

lalieu the art of thinking ahead, and he could foresee 
as well as any man of his acquaintance. He foresaw ^ 
the trend of events in this affair. This was only a' 
preliminary. The prosecution was charging him and 
Cotherstone with the murder of Stoner today: it 
would be charging them with the murder of Kitely 
tomorrow. 

Myler's evidence caused a profound sensation in 
court — but there was even more sensation and more 
excitement when Myler's father-in-law followed him 
in the witness-box. It was literally in a breathless 
silence that the old man told the story of the crime 
of thirty years ago; it was a wonderfully dramatic 
moment when he declared that in spite of the long 
time that had elapsed he recognized the Mallalieu and 
Cotherstone of Highmarket as the Mallows and Chid- 
forth whom he had known at Wilchester. 

Even then Mallalieu had not flinched. Cotherstone 
flushed, grew restless, hung his head a little, looked as 
if he would like to explain. But Mallalieu continued 
to stare fixedly across the court. He cared nothing 
that the revelation had been made at last. Now that 
it had been made, in full publicity, he did not care a 
brass farthing if every man and woman in High- 
market knew that he was an ex-gaol-bird. That was 
far away in the dead past — ^what he cared about was 
the present and the future. And his sharp wits told 
him that if the evidence of Myler and of old Pursey 
was all that the prosecution could bring against him, 
he was safe. That there had been a secret, that 
■Stoner had come into possession of it, that Stoner was 
about to make profit of it, was no proof that he and 



216 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

Cotherstone, or either of them, had murdered Stoner. 
No — if that was all. . . . 

But in another moment Mallalieu knew that it was 
not all. Up to that moment he had firmly believed 
lihat he had got away from Hobwick Quarry unob- 
served. Here he was wrong. He had now to learn 
that a young man from Norcaster had come over to 
Highmarket that Sunday afternoon to visit his sweet- 
heart; that this couple had gone up the moors; that 
they were on the opposite side of Hobwick Quarry 
when he went down into it after Stoner 's fall; that 
they had seen him move about and finally go away; 
what was more, they had seen Cotherstone descend 
into the quarry and recover the stick ; Cotherstone had 
passed near them as they stood hidden in the bushes j 
they had seen the stick in his hand. 

When Mallalieu heard all this and saw his stick 
produced and identified, he ceased to take any further 
interest in that stage of the proceedings. He knew 
the worst now, and he began to think of his plans 
and schemes. And suddenly, all the evidence for 
that time being over, and the magistrates and the 
officials being in the thick of some whispered consul- 
tations about the adjournment, Mallalieu spoke for 
the first time. 

**I shall have my answer about all this business at 
the right time and place, ' ' he said loudly. ' ' My part- 
ner can do what he likes. All I have to say now is 
that I ask for bail. You can fix it at any amount you 
like. You aU know me." 

The magistrates and the officials looked across the 
well of the court in astonishment, and the chairman, 



THE HAND IN THE DARKNESS 217 

a mild old gentleman who was obviously much dis- 
tressed by the revelation, shook his head depre- 
catingly, 

** Impossible ! " he remonstrated. ''Quite impos- 
sible! We haven't the power " 

* ' You 're wrong ! ' ' retorted Mallalieu, masterful and 
insistent as ever. "You have the power! D'ye think 
I 've been a justice of the peace for twelve years with- 
out knowing what law is? You've the power to ad- 
mit to bail in all charges of felony, at your discretion. 
So now then!" 

The magistrates looked at their clerk, and the clerk 
smiled. 

**Mr. Mallalieu 's theory is correct," he said quietly. 
*'But no magistrate is obliged to admit to bail in 
felonies and misdemeanours, and in practice bail is 
never allowed in cases where — as in this case — ^the 
charge is one of murder. Such procedure is un- 
heard of." 

''Make a precedent, then!" sneered Mallalieu. 
"Here! — you can have twenty thousand pounds se- 
curity, if you like. ' ' 

But this offer received no answer, and in five min- 
utes more Mallalieu heard the case adjourned for a 
week and himself and Cotherstone committed to Nor- 
caster Gaol in the meantime. Without a look at 
his fellow-prisoner he turned out of the dock and was 
escorted back to the private room in the Town Hall 
from which he had been brought. 

"Hang 'em for a lot of fools!" he burst out to 
the superintendent, who had accompanied him. "Do 
they think I'm going to run away? Likely thing — 



218 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

on a trumped-up charge like this. Here ! — how soon 
shall you be wanting to start for yon place?" 

The superintendent, who had cherished consider- 
able respect for Mallalieu in the past, and was much 
upset and very downcast about this sudden change 
in the Mayor's fortunes, looked at his prisoner and 
shook his head. 

''There's a couple of cars ordered to be ready in 
half an hour, Mr. Mallalieu," he answered. "One 
for you, and one for Mr. Cotherstone. ' ' 

"With armed escorts in both, I suppose!" sneered 
Mallalieu. "Well, look here — ^you've time to get me 
a cup of tea. Slip out and get one o ' your men to nip 
across to the Arms for it — good, strong tea, and a 
slice or two of bread-and-butter. I can do with it." 

He flung half a crown on the table, and the super- 
intendent, suspecting nothing, and willing to oblige 
a man who had always been friendly and genial to- 
wards himself, went out of the room, with no further 
precautions than the turning of the key in the lock 
when he had once got outside the door. It never 
entered his head that the prisoner would try to 
escape, never crossed his mind that Mallalieu had any 
chance of escaping. He went away along the cor- 
ridor to find one of his men who could be dispatched 
to the Highmarket Arms. 

But the instant Mallalieu was left alone he started 
into action. He had not been Mayor of Highmarket 
for two years, a member of its Corporation for nearly 
twenty, without knowing all the ins-and-outs of that 
old Town Hall. And as soon as the superintendent 
had left him he drew from his pocket a key, went 



THE HAND IN THE DARKNESS 21^ 

across the room to a door which stood in a comer 
behind a curtain, unlocked it, opened it gently, looked 
out, passed into a lobby without, relocked the door 
behind him, and in another instant was stealing 
quietly down a private staircase that led to an en- 
trance into the quaint old garden at the back of the 
premises. One further moment of suspense and of 
looking round, and he was safely in that garden and 
behind the thick shrubs which ran along one of its 
high walls. Yet another and he was out of the 
garden, and in an old-fashioned orchard which ran, 
thick with trees, to the very edge of the coppices at 
the foot of the Shawl. Once in that orchard, 
screened by its close-branched, low-spreading boughs, 
leafless though they were at that period of the year, 
he paused to get his breath, and to chuckle over the 
success of his scheme. What a mercy, what bless- 
ing, he thought, that they had not searched him on 
his arrest! — that they had delayed that interesting 
ceremony until his committal! The omission, he 
knew, had been winked at — purposely — and it had 
left him with his precious waistcoat, his revolver, and 
the key that had opened his prison door. 

Dusk had fallen over Highmarket before the hear- 
ing came to an end, and it was now dark. Mallalieu 
knew that he had little time to lose — but he also knew 
that his pursuers would have hard work to catch him. 
He had laid his plans while the last two witnesses 
were in the box: his detailed knowledge of the town 
and its immediate neighbourhood stood in good stead. 
Moreover, the geographical situation of the Town Hall 
was a great help. He had nothing to do but steal out 



220 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

of the orchard into the coppices, make his way cau- 
tiously through them into the deeper wood which 
fringed the Shawl, pass through that to the ridge at 
the top, and gain the moors. Once on those moors 
he would strike by. devious way for Norcaster — he 
knew a safe place in the Lower Town there where 
he could be hidden for a month, three months, six 
months, without fear of discovery, and from whence 
he could get away by ship. 

All was quiet as he passed through a gap in the 
orchard hedge and stole into the coppices. He kept 
stealthily but swiftly along through the pine and fir 
until he came to the wood which covered the higher 
part of the Shawl. The trees were much thicker there, 
the brakes and bushes were thicker, and the darkness 
was greater. He was obliged to move at a slower 
pace — and suddenly he heard men's voices on the low- 
er slopes beneath him. He paused catching his 
breath and listening. And then, just as suddenly as 
he had heard the voices, he felt a hand, firm, steady, 
sinewy, fasten on his wrist and stay there. 



CHAPTER XXni 

COMFORTABLE CAPTIVITY 

The tightening of that sinewy grip on Mallalieu's 
wrist so startled him that it was only by a great effort 
that he restrained himself from crying out and from 
breaking into one of his fits of trembling. This sud- 
den arrest was all the more disturbing to his mental 
composure because, for the moment, he could not see 
to whom the hand belonged. But as he twisted round 
he became aware of a tall, thin shape at his elbow: 
the next instant a whisper stole to his ear. 

**H'sh! Be careful! — ^there's men down there on 
the path! — they're very like after you," said the 
voice. ' ' Wait here a minute ! ' ' 

"Who are you?" demanded Mallalieu hoarsely. 
He was endeavouring to free his wrist, but the steel- 
like fingers clung, '*Let go my hand!" he said. 
"D'ye hear?— let it go!" 

"Wait!" said the voice. "It's for your own good. 
It's me — Miss Pett. I saw you — against that patch 
of light between the trees there — I knew your big 
figure. You've got away, of course. Well, you'll not 
get much further if you don't trust to me. Wait 
till we hear which way them fellows go. ' * 

221 



222 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

Mallalieu resigned himself. As his eyes grew more 
accustomed to the gloom of the wood, he made out 
that Miss Pett was standing just within an opening 
in the trees ; presently, as the voices beneath them be- 
came fainter, she drew him into it. 

"This way!" she whispered. "Come close behind 
me — the house is close by." 

"No!" protested Mallalieu angrily. "None of 
your houses! Here, I want to be on the moors. 
"What do you want — to keep your tongue still?" 

Miss Pett paused and edged her thin figure close to 
Mallalieu 's bulky one. 

"It'll not be a question of my tongue if you once 
go out o' this wood," she said. "They'll search those 
moors first thing. Don't be a fool! — it'll be known 
all over the town by now ! Come with me and I '11 put 
you where all the police in the county can't find you. 
But of course, do as you like — only, I'm warning you. 
You haven't a cat's chance if you set foot on that 
moor. Lord bless you, man! — don't they know that 
there's only two places you could make for — Nor- 
caster and Hexendale ? Is there any way to either of 
'em except across the moors? Come on, now — ^be 
sensible." 

"Go on, then!" growled Mallalieur. "Wholly sus- 
picious by nature, he was wondering why this she- 
dragon, as he had so often called her, should be at 
all desirous of sheltering him. Already he suspected 
her of some design, some trick — and in the darkness 
he clapped his hand on the hip-pocket in which he 
had placed his revolver. That was safe enough — and 
again he thanked his stars that the police had not 



COMFORTABLE CAPTIVITY 223 

searched him. But however well he might be armed, 
he was for the time being in Miss Pett's power — he 
knew very well that if he tried to slip away Miss 
Pett had only to utter one shrill cry to attract atten- 
tion. And so, much as he desired the freedom of the 
moors, he allowed himself to be taken captive by this 
gaoler who promised eventual liberty. 

Miss Pett waited in the thickness of the trees until 
the voices at the foot of the Shawl became faint and 
far off; she herself knew well enough that they were 
not the voices of men who were searching for Msil- 
lalieu, but of country folk who had been into the town 
and were now returning home by the lower path in the 
wood. But it suited her purposes to create a spirit 
of impending danger in the Mayor, and so she kept 
him there, her hand still on his arm, until the last 
sound died away. And while she thus held him, 
Mallalieu, who had often observed Miss Pett in her 
peregrinations through the Market Place, and had 
been accustomed to speaking of her as a thread-paper, 
or as Mother Skiu-and-Bones, because of her phe- 
nomenal thinness, wondered how it was that a woman 
of such extraordinary attenuation should possess such 
powerful fingers — her grip on his wrist was like that 
of a vice. And somehow, in a fashion for which he 
could not account, especially in the disturbed and 
anxious state of his mind, he became aware that here 
in this strange woman was some mental force which 
was superior to and was already dominating his own, 
and for a moment he was tempted to shake the steel- 
like fingers off and make a dash for the moorlands. 

But Miss Pett presently moved forward, holding 



224r THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

Mallalieu as a nurse might hold an unwilling child. 
She led him cautiously through the trees, which there 
became thicker, she piloted him carefully down a path, 
and into a shrubbery — she drew him through a gap in 
a hedgerow, and Mallalieu knew then that they were 
in the kitchen garden at the rear of old Kitely's cot- 
tage. Quietly and stealthily, moving herself as if her 
feet were shod with velvet, Miss Pett made her way 
with her captive to the door ; Mallalieu heard the rasp- 
ing of a key in a lock, the lifting of a latch; then he 
was gently but firmly pushed into darkness. Behind 
him the door closed — a bolt was shot home. 

"This way!" whispered Miss Pett. She drew him 
after her along what he felt to be a passage, twisted 
him to the letft through another doorway, and then, 
for the first time since she had assumed charge of him, 
released his wrist. ** Wait!" she said. "We'll have 
a light presently." 

Mallalieu stood where she had placed him, impa- 
tient of everything, but feeling powerless to move. 
He heard Miss Pett move about; he heard the draw- 
ing to and barring of shutters, the swish of curtains 
being pulled together; then the spurt and glare of a 
match — in its feeble flame he saw Miss Pett's queer 
countenance, framed in an odd-shaped, old-fashioned 
poke bonnet, bending towards a lamp. In the gradu- 
ally increasing light of that lamp Mallalieu looked 
anxiously around him. 

He was in a little room which was half-parlour, half 
bed-room. There was a camp bed in one corner; 
there was an ancient knee-hole writing desk under 
the window across which the big curtains had been 



COMFORTABLE CAPTIVITY 225 

drawn; there were a couple of easy-chairs on either 
side of the hearth. There were books and papers on 
a shelf ; there were pictures and cartoons on the walls. 
Mallalieu took a hasty glance at those unusual orna- 
ments and hated them: they were pictures of famous 
judges in their robes, and of great criminal counsel in 
their wigs — and over the chimney-piece, framed in 
black wood, was an old broad-sheet, printed in big, 
queer-shaped letters : Mallalieu 's hasty glance caught 
the staring headline — Dying Speech and Confession of 
the Famous Murderer. . . . 

"This was Kitely's snug," remarked Miss Pett 
calmly, as she turned up the lamp to the full. "He 
slept in that bed, studied at that desk, and smoked 
his pipe in that chair. He called it his sanctum- 
something-or-other — I don 't know no Latin. But it 's 
a nice room, and it's comfortable, or will be when 
I put a fire in that grate, and it'll do very well for 
you until you can move. Sit you down — ^would you 
like a drop of good whisky, now ? " 

Mallalieu sat down and stared his hardest at Miss 
Pett. He felt himself becoming more confused and 
puzzled than ever. 

' * Look here, missis ! " he said suddenly. * * Let 's get 
a clear idea about things. You say you can keep me 
safe here until I can get away. How do you know I 
shall be safe?" 

"Because I'll take good care that you are," 
answered Miss Pett. "There's nobody can get into 
this house without my permission, and before I let 
anybody in, no matter with what warrants or such- 
like they carried, I'd see that you were out of it be- 



226 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

fore they crossed the threshold. I'm no fool, I can 
tell you, Mr. Mallalieu, and if you trust me " 

"I've no choice, so it seems," remarked Mallalieu, 
grimly. "You've got me! And now, how much are 
you reckoninng to get out of me — ^what ? ' ' 

"No performance, no pay!" said Miss Pett. 
"Wait till I 've managed things for you. I know how 
to get you safely away from here — leave it to me, and 
I '11 have you put down in any part of Norcaster you 
like, without anybody knowing. And if you like to 
make me a little present then " 

"You're certain?" demanded Mallalieu, still sus- 
picious, but glad to welcome even a ray of hope. 
"You know what you're talking about?" 

' ' I never talk idle stuff, ' ' retorted Miss Pett. " I 'm 
telling you what I know." 

"All right, then," said Mallalieu. "You do your 
part, and I'll do mine when it comes to it — ^you'll not 
find me ungenerous, missis. And I will have that 
drop of whisky you talked about." 

Miss Pett went away, leaving Mallalieu to stare 
about him and to meditate on this curious change in 
his fortunes. Well, after all, it was better to be safe 
and snug under this queer old woman's charge than 
to be locked up in Norcaster Gaol, or to be hunted 
about on the bleak moors and possibly to go without 
food or drink. And his thoughts began to assume a 
more cheerful complexion when Miss Pett presently 
brought him ar stiff glass of undeniably good liquor, 
and proceeded to light a fire in his prison: he even 
melted so much as to offer her some thanks. 

"I'm sure I'm much obliged to you, missis," he 



COMFORTABLE CAPTIVITY 227 

said, with an attempt at graciousness. "I'll not for- 
get you when it comes to settling up. But I should 
feel a good deal easier in my mind if I knew two 
things. First of all — you know, of course, I've got 
away from yon lot down yonder, else I shouldn't ha' 
been where you found me. But — they'll raise the 
hue-and-cry, missis! Now supposing they come 
here?" 

Miss Pett lifted her queer face from the hearth, 
where she had been blowing the sticks into a 
blaze. 

"There's such a thing as chance," she observed. 
"To start with, how much chance is there that they'd 
ever think of coming here? Next to none! They'd 
never suspect me of harbouring you. There is a 
chance that when they look through these woods 
— as they will — they'll ask if I've seen aught of you — 
well, you can leave the answer to me." 

' * They might want to search, ' ' suggested Mallalieu. 

"Not likely!" answered Miss Pett, with a shake of 
the poke bonnet. "But even if they did, I'd take 
good care they didn't find you!" 

"Well — and what about getting me away?" asked 
Mallalieu. "How's that to be done?" 

"I'll tell you that tomorrow," replied Miss Pett. 
"You make yourself easy — I'll see you're all right. 
And now I'll go and cook you a nice chop, for no 
doubt you'll do with something after all the stuff 
you had to hear in the court." 

"You were there, then?" asked Mallalieu. "Lot 
0* stuff and nonsense! A sensible woman like 
you " 



228 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

**A sensible woman like me only believes what she 
can prove," answered Miss Pett. 

She went away and shut the door, and Mallalieu, 
left to himself, took another heartening pull at his 
glass and proceeded to re-inspect his quarters. The 
fire was blazing up: the room was warm and com- 
fortable ; certainly he was fortunate. But he assured 
himself that the window was properly shuttered, 
barred, and fully covered by the thick curtain, and he 
stood by it for a moment listening intently for any 
sound of movement without. No sound came, not 
even the wail of a somewhat strong wind which he 
knew to be sweeping through the pine trees, and he 
came to the conclusion that the old stone walls were 
almost sound-proof and that if he and Miss Pett con- 
versed in ordinary tones no eavesdroppers outside the 
cottage could hear them. And presently he caught 
a sound within the cottage — the sound of the sizzling 
of chops on a gridiron, and with it came the pleasant 
and grateful smell of cooking meat, and Mallalieu de- 
cided that he was hungry. 

To a man fixed as Mallalieu was at that time the 
evening which followed was by no means unpleasant. 
Miss Pett served him as nice a little supper as his 
own housekeeper would have given him ; later on she 
favoured him with her compeiny. They talked of 
anything but the events of the day, and Mallalieu 
began to think that the queer-looking woman was a 
remarkably shrewd and intelligent person. There 
was but one drawback to his captivity — Miss Pett 
would not let him smoke. Cigars, she said, might 
be smelt outside the cottage, and nobody would credit 



\ 

COMFORTABLE CAPTIVITY 229 

her with the consumption of such gentleman-like lux- 
uries. 

"And if I were you," she said, at the end of an 
interesting conversation which had covered a variety 
of subjects, "I should try to get a good night's rest. 
I'll mix you a good glass of toddy such as the late 
Kitely always let me mix for his nightcap, and then 
I'll leave you. The bed's aired, there's plenty of 
clothing on it, all's safe, and you can sleep as if you 
were a baby in a cradle, for I always sleep like a dog, 
with one ear and an eye open, and I '11 take good care 
naught disturbs you, so there!" 

Mallalieu drank the steaming glass of spirits and 
water which Miss Pett presently brought him, and 
took her advice about going to bed. "Without ever 
knowing anything about it he fell into such a slumber 
as he had never known in his life before. It was in- 
deed so sound that he never heard Miss Pett steal 
into his room, was not aware that she carefully with- 
drew the precious waistcoat which, through a con- 
venient hole in the wall, she had watched him de- 
posit under the rest of his garments on the chair 
at his side, never knew that she carried it away into 
the living-room on the other side of the cottage. For 
the strong flavour of the lemon and the sweetness of 
the sugar which Miss Pett had put into the hot toddy 
had utterly obscured the very slight taste of some- 
thing else which she had put in — something which 
was much stronger than the generous dose of whisky, 
and was calculated to plunge Mallalieu into a stupor 
from which not even an earthquake could have roused 
him. 



230 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

Miss Pett examined the waistcoat at her leisure. 
Her thin fi^igers went throoigh every pocket and every 
paper, through the bank-notes, the scrip, the shares, 
the securities. She put everything back in its place, 
after a careful reckoning and estimation of the whole. 
And Mallalieu was as deeply plunged in his slumbers 
as ever when she went back into his room with her 
shaded light and her catlike tread, and she replaced 
the garment exactly where she found it, and went out 
and shut the door as lightly as a butterfly folds its 
wings. 

It was then deven o'clock at night, and Miss Pett, 
instead of retiring to her bedj sat down by .the living- 
room fire and waited. The poke bonnet had been 
replaced by the gay turban, and under its gold and 
scarlet her strange, skeleton-like face gleamed like 
old ivory as she sat there with the firelight playing 
on it. And so immobile was she, sitting with her 
sinewy skin-and-bone arms lying folded over her silk 
apron, that she might have been taken for an image 
rather than for a living woman. 

But as the hands of the clock on the mantelpiece 
neared midnight. Miss Pett suddenly moved. Her 
sharp ears caught a scratching sound on the shutter 
outside the window. And noiselessly she moved down 
the passage, and noiselessly unbarred the front door, 
and just as noiselessly closed it again behind the 
man who slipped in — Christopher, her nephew. 



CHAPTER X3JV 

STRICT BUSINESS LINES 

Mr. Christopher Pett, warned by the uplifted finger 
of his aunt, tip-toed into the the living-room, and 
setting down his small travelling bag on the table pro- 
ceeded to divest himself of a thick overcoat, a warm 
muffler, woollen gloves, and a silk hat. And Miss 
Pett, having closed the outer and inner doors, came 
in and glanced inquiringly at him. 

"Which way did you come, this time?" she in- 
quired. 

**High GiU," replied Christopher. "Got an after- 
noon express that stopped there. Jolly cold it was 
crossing those moors of yours, too, I can tell you! — 
I can da with a drop of something. I say — ^is there 
anything afoot about here? — anything going on?" 

"Why?" asked Miss Pett, producing the whisky 
and the lemons. * * And how do you mean ? ' ' 

Christoph^er pulled an easy chair to the fire and 
stretched his hands to the blaze. 

"Up there, on tne moor," he answered. "There's 
fellows going about with lights — lanterns, I should 
say. I didn't see 'em close at hand — there were sev- 
eral of 'em crossing about — like fire-flies — as if the 

231 



282 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

chaps who carried 'em were searching for something." 

Miss Pett set the decanter and the materials for 
toddy on the table at her nephew's side, and took a 
covered plate from the cupboard in the comer." 

''Them's potted meat sandwiches," she said. 
"Very toothsome you'll find 'em — I didn't prepare 
much, for I knew you'd get your dinner on the train. 
Yes, well, there is something afoot — they are search- 
ing. Not for something, though, but for somebody. 
Mallalieu!'* 

Christopher, his mouth full of sandwiches, and his 
hand laid on the decanter, lifted a face full of new 
and alert interest. 

*'The Mayor!" he exclaimed. 

"Quite so," assented Miss Pett. "Anthony Mal- 
lalieu. Esquire, Mayor of Highmarket. They want 
him, does the police — bad ! ' ' 

Christopher still remained transfixed. The decan- 
ter was already tilted in his hand, but he tilted it no 
further ; the sandwich hung bulging in his cheek. 

' * Good Lord ! " he said. ' * Not for ' ' he paused, 

nodding his head towards the front of the cottage 
where the wood lay " — ^not for — ^that? They ain't 
suspicioning Kimf" 

"No, but for killing his clerk, who'd found some- 
thing out, ' ' replied Miss Pett. ' * The clerk was killed 
Sunday ; they took up Mallalieu and his partner today, 
and tried 'em, and Mallalieu slipped the police some- 
how, after the case was adjourned, and escaped. And 
— he's here!" 

Christopher had begun to pour the whisky into his 



STRICT BUSINESS LINES 233 

glass. In his astonishment he rattled the decanter 
against the rim. 

* ' What ! " he exclaimed. ' * Here ? In this cottage ? ' ' 

"In there," answered Miss Pett. "In Kitely's 
room. Safe and sound. There's no danger. He'll 
not wake. I mixed him a glass of toddy before he 
went to bed, and neither earthquakes nor fire-alarms 
'ull wake him before nine o 'clock tomorrow morning. ' ' 

"Whew!" said Christopher. "Um! it's a danger- 
ous game — it's harbouring, you know. However, 
they 'd suspect that he 'd come here. Whatever made 
him come here?" 

"I made him come here," replied Miss Pett. "I 
caught him in the wood outside there, as I was coming 
back from the Town Hall, so I made him come in. 
It'll pay very well, Chris." 

Mr. Pett, who was lifting his glass to his lips, ar- 
rested it in mid-air, winked over its rim at his aunt^ 
and smiled knowingly. 

"You're a good hand at business, I must say, old 
lady!" he remarked admiringly. "Of course, of 
course, if you're doing a bit of business out of it " 

"That'll come tomorrow," said Miss Pett, seating 
herself at the table and glancing at her nephew's bag. 
"We'll do our own business tonight. Well, how have 
you come on?" 

Christopher munched and drank for a minute or 
two. Then he nodded, with much satisfaction in his 
manner. 

"Very well," he answered. "I got what I con- 
sider a very good price. Sold the whole lot to an- 



234. THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

other Brixton property-owner, got paid, and have 
brought you the money. All of it — ain't even taken 
my costs, my expenses, and my commission out of it — 
yet." 

"How much did you sell for?" asked Miss Pett. 

Christopher pulled his bag to his side and took a 
bundle of red-taped documents from it. 

"You ought to think yourself jolly lucky," he said, 
wagging his head admonitorily at his aunt. "I see 
a lot of the state of the property market, and I can 
assure you I did uncommonly well for you. I 
shouldn't have got what I did if it had been sold by 
auction. But the man I sold to was a bit keen, 'cause 
he's already got adjacent property, and he gave rather 
more than he would ha' done in other circumstances. 
I got," he continued, consulting the topmost of his 
papers, "I got, in round figures, three thousand four 
hundred — to be exact, three thousand four hundred, 
seventeen, five,' eleven." 

"Where's the money?" demanded Miss Pett. 

"It's here," answered Christopher, tapping his 
breast. "In my pocket-book. Notes, big and little — 
so that we can settle up." 

Miss Pett stretched out her hand. 

"Hand it over!" she said. 

Christopher gave his aunt a sidelong glance. 

"Hadn't we better reckon up my costs and com- 
mission first?" he suggested. "Here's an account of 
the costs — the commission, of course, was to be settled 
between you and me." 

"We'll settle all that when you've handed the 



STRICT BUSINESS LINES 235 

money over," said Miss Pett. "I haven't counted it 
yet." 

There was a certain unwillingness in Christopher 
Pett's manner as he slowly produced a stout pocket- 
book and took from it a thick wad of bank-notes. 
He pushed this across to his aunt, with a tiny heap 
of silver and copper. 

"Well, I'm trusting to you, you know," he said 
« little doubtfully. "Don't forget that I've done well 
for you." 

Miss Pett made no answer. She had taken a pair 
of spectacles from her pocket, and with these perched 
on the bridge of her sharp nose she proceeded to count 
the notes, while her nephew alternately sipped at hi© 
toddy and stroked his chin, meanwhile eyeing his rela- 
tive 's proceedings with somewhat rueful looks. 

"Three thousand, four hundred and seventeen 
pounds, five shillings and elevenpence, ' ' and Miss Pett 
calmly. "And them costs, now, and the expenses — 
how much do they come to, Chris?" 

"Sixty-one, two, nine," answered Christopher, pass- 
ing one of his papers across the table with alacrity. 
"You'll find it quite right — I did it as cheap as po»- 
sible for you." 

Miss Pett set her elbow on her heap of bank-note» 
while she examined the statement. That done, she 
looked over the tops of her spectacles at the expec- 
tant Christopher. 

"Well, about that commission," she said. "Of 
course, you know, Chris, you oughtn't to charge me 
what you'd charge other folks. You ought to do it 



236 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

very reasonable indeed for me. What were you think- 
ing of, now ? ' ' 

**I got the top price," remarked Christopher re- 
flectively. "I got you quite four hundred more than 
the market price. How would — how would five per 
cent, be, now?" 

Miss Pett threw up the gay turban with a toss of 
surprise. 

**Five per cent!" she ejaculated. "Christopher 
Pett! — whatever are you talking about? Why, that 
'ud be a hundred and seventy pound! Eh, dear! — 
nothing of the sort — it 'ud be as good as robbery. 
I'm astonished at you." 

"Well, how much, then?" growled Christopher. 
"Hang it all! — don't be close with your own 
nephew. ' ' 

"I'll give you a hundred pounds — to include the 
costs," said Miss Pett firmly. "Not a penny more 
— ^but,"' she added, bending forward and nodding 
her head towards that half of the cottage wherein 
Mallalieu slumbered so heavily, "I'll give you some- 
thing to boot — an opportunity of feathering your nest 
out of — him!" 

Christopher's face, which had clouded heavily, 
lightened somewhat at this, and he too glanced at 
the door. 

"Will it be worth it?" he asked doubtfully. 
"What is there to be got out of him if he's flying 
from justice? He'll carry naught — and he can't get 
at anything that he has, either." 

Miss Pett gave vent to a queer, dry chuckle; the 
sound of her laughter always made her nephew think 



STRICT BUSINESS LINES 23T 

of the clicking of machinery that badly wanted oiling. 

''He's heaps o' money on him!" she whispered. 
"After he dropped off tonight I went through his 
pockets. We've only got to keep a tight hold on him 
to get as much as ever we like ! So — put your hun- 
dred in your pocket, and we'll see about the other 
affair tomorrow." 

"Oh, well, of course, in that case!" said Christo- 
pher. He picked up the banknote which his aunt 
pushed towards him and slipped it into his purse. 
' ' We shall have to play on his fears a bit, you know, ' ' 
he remarked. 

"I think we shall be equal to it — between us," 
answered Miss Pett drily. "Them big, flabby men's 
easy frightened." 

Mallalieu was certainly frightened when he woke 
suddenly next morning to find Miss Pett standing at 
the side of his bed. He glared at her for one instant 
of wild alarm and started up on his pillows. Miss 
Pett laid one of her claw-like hands on his shoulder. 

"Don't alarm yourself, mister," she said. "All's 
safe, and here 's something that '11 do you good — a cup 
of nice hot coffee — real Mocha, to which the late Kitely 
was partial — with a drop o'rum in it. Drink it — and 
you shall have your breakfast in half an hour. It's 
past nine o'clock." 

"I must have slept very sound," said Mallalieu, 
following his gaoler's orders. "You say all's safeT 
Naught heard or seen?" 

' ' All 's safe, all 's serene, ' ' replied Miss Pett. * ' And 
you're in luck's way, for there's my nephew Christo- 
pher arrived from London, to help me about settling 



238 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

my affairs and removing my effects from this place, 
and he 's a lawyer and '11 give you good advice. ' ' 

Mallalieu growled a little. He had seen Mr, Chris- 
topher Pett and he was inclined to be doubtful of him. 

"Is he to be trusted?" he muttered. "I expect 
he '11 have to be squared, too ! ' ' 

"Not beyond reason," replied Miss Pett. "We're 
not unreasonable people, our family. He's a very 
sensible young man, is Christopher, The late Kitely 
had a very strong opinion of his abilities." 

Mallalieu had no doubt of Mr, Christopher Pett's 
abilities in a certain direction after he had exchanged 
a few questions and answers with that young gentle- 
man. For Christopher was shrewd, sharp, practical 
and judicial. 

"It's a very dangerous and — you'll excuse plain 
speaking under the circumstances, sir — very foolish 
thing that you've done, Mr. Mallalieu," he said, as he 
and the prisoner sat closeted together in the still 
shuttered and curtained parlour-bedroom, "The 
mere fact of your making your escape, sir, is what 
some would consider a proof of guilt — it is indeed! 
And of course my aunt — and myself, in my small 
way — ^we're running great risks, Mr. Mallalieu — ^we 
really are — great risks!" 

"Now then, you'll not lose by me," said Mallalieu. 
"I'm not a man of straw," 

"All very well, sir," replied Christopher, "but even 
if you were a millionaire and recompensed us on what 
I may term a princely scale — ^not that we shall expect 
it, Mr. Mallalieu — the risks would be extraordinary 
— ahem ! I mean will be extraordinary. For you see. 



STRICT BUSINESS LINES 239 

Mr. Mallalieu, there's two or three things that's dead 
certain. To start with, sir, it's absolutely impossible 
for you to get away from here by yourself — you can 't 
doit!" 

**Why not?" growled Mallalieu. "I can get away 
at nightfall." 

"No, sir," affirmed Christopher stoutly. **I saw 
the condition of the moors last night. Patrolled, Mr. 
Mallalieu, patrolled! By men with lights. That 
patrolling, sir, will go on for many a night. Make 
up your mind, Mr, Mallalieu, that if you set foot out 
of this house, you'll see the inside of Norcaster Gaol 
before two hours is over!" 

"What do you advise, then?" demanded Malla- 
lieu. "Here!— I'm fairly in for it, so I'll tell you 
what my notion was. If I can once get to a certain 
part of Norcaster, I'm safe. I can get away to the 
Continent from there." 

"Then, sir," replied Christopher, "the thing is to 
devise a plan by which you can be conveyed to Nor- 
caster without suspicion. That'll have to be ar- 
ranged between me and my aunt — hence our risks 
on your behalf." 

"Your aunt said she'd a plan," remarked Mal- 
lalieu. 

"Not quite matured, sir," said Christopher. "It 
needs a little reflection and trimming, as it were. 
Now what I advise, Mr. Mallalieu, is this— you keep 
snug here, with my aunt as sentinel — she assures me 
that even if the police— don't be frightened, sir!— 
did come here, she could hide you quite safely before 
ever she opened the door to them. As for me, I'U 



240 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

go, casual-like, into the town, and do a bit of quiet 
looking and listening. I shall be able to find out 
how the land lies, sir — and when I return I'll report 
to you, and the three of us will put our heads to- 
gether." 

Leaving the captive in charge of Miss Pett, Christo- 
pher, having brushed his silk hat and his overcoat 
and fitted on a pair of black kid gloves, strolled 
solemnly into Highmarket. He was known to a few 
people there, and he took good care to let those of 
his acquaintance who met him hear that he had come 
down to arrange his aunt's affairs, and to help in the 
removal of the household goods bequeathed to her 
by the deceased Kitely. In proof of this he called in 
at the furniture remover's, to get an estimate of the 
cost of removal to Norcaster Docks — thence, said 
Christopher, the furniture could be taken by sea to 
London, where Miss Pett intended to reside in future. 
At the furniture remover 's, and in such other shops as 
he visited, and in the bar-parlour of the Highmarket 
Arms, where he stayed an hour or so, gossiping with 
the loungers, and sipping a glass or two of dry sherry, 
Christopher picked up a great deal of information. 
And at noon he returned to the cottage, having 
learned that the police and everybody in Highmarket 
firmly believed that Mallalieu had got clear and clean 
away the night before, and was already far beyond 
pursuit. The police theory was that there had been 
coUusion, and that immediately on his escape he had 
been whirled off by some person to whose identity 
there was as yet no clue. 

But Christopher Pett told a very different story to 



STRICT BUSINESS LINES 241 

Mallalieu. The moors, he said, were being patrolled 
night and day : it was believed the fugitive was in hid- 
ing in one of the old quarries. Every road and en- 
trance to Noreaster, and to all the adjacent towns and 
stations, was watched and guarded. There was no 
hope for Mallalieu but in the kindness and contrivance 
of the aunt and the nephew, and Mallalieu recognized 
the inevitable and was obliged to yield himself to 
their tender mercies. 



CHAPTER XXV 

NO FURTHER EVIDENCE 

While Mallalieu lay captive in the stronghold of 
Miss Pett, Cotherstone was experiencing a quite dif- 
ferent sort of incarceration in the detention cells of 
Norcaster Gaol. Had he known where his partner 
was, and under what circumstances IMallalieu had ob- 
tained deliverance from official bolts and bars, Coth- 
erstone would probably have laughed in his sleeve 
and sneered at him for a fool. He had been calling 
Mallalieu a fool, indeed, ever since the previous even- 
ing, when the police, conducting him to Norcaster, had 
told him of the Mayor's escape from the Town Hall. 
Nobody but an absolute fool, a consummate idiot, 
thought Cotherstone, would have done a thing like 
that. The man who flies is the man who has reason 
to fly — that was Cotherstone 's opinion, and in his 
belief ninety-nine out of every hundred persons in 
Highmarket would share it. Mallalieu would now be 
set down as guilty — they would say he dared not face 
things, that he knew he was doomed, that his escape 
was the desperate act of a conscious criminal. Ass ! — 
said Cotherstone, not without a certain amount of 
malicious delight: they should none of them have 

242 



NO FURTHER EVIDENCE 243 

reason to say such things of him. He would make 
no attempt to fly — no, not if they left the gate of 
Norcaster Gaol wide open to him! It should be his 
particular care to have himself legally cleared — his 
acquittal should be as public as the proceedings which 
had just taken place. He went out of the dock with 
that resolve strong on him ; he carried it away to his 
cell at Norcaster; he woke in the morning with it, 
stronger than ever. Cotherstone, instead of turning 
tail, was going to fight — for his own hand. 

As a prisoner merely under detention, Cotherstone 
had privileges of which he took good care to avail 
himself. Four people he desired to see, and must 
see at once, on that first day in gaol — and he lost no 
time in making known his desires. One — and the 
most important — person was a certain solicitor in 
Norcaster who enjoyed a great reputation as a sharp 
man of affairs. Another — scarcely less important — 
was a barrister who resided in Norcaster, and had had 
it said of him for a whole generation that he had 
restored more criminals to society than any man of 
his profession then living. And the other two were 
his own daughter and Windle Bent. Them he must 
see — but the men of law first. 

When the solicitor and the barrister came, Cother- 
stone talked to them as he had never talked to any- 
body in his life. He very soon let them see that he 
had two definite objects in sending for them : the first 
was to tell them in plain language that money was of 
no consideration in the matter of his defence; the 
second, that they had come there to hear him lay 
down the law as to what they were to do. Talk he did, 



244. THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

and they listened — and Cotlierstone had the satisfac- 
tion of seeing that they went away duly impressed 
with all that he had said to them. He went back 
to his cell from the room in which this interview 
had taken place congratulating himself on his 
ability. 

*'I shall be out of this, and all '11 be clear, a week 
today!" he assured himself. ''We'll see where that 
fool of a Mallalieu is by then ! For he '11 not get far, 
nor go hidden for thirty years, this time." 

He waited with some anxiety to see his daughter, 
not because he must see her within the walls of a 
prison, but because he knew that by that time she 
would have learned the secrets of that past which he 
had kept so carefully hidden from her. Only child 
of his though she was, he felt that Lettie was not al- 
together of his sort; he had often realized that she 
was on a different mental plane from his own, and 
was also, in some respects, a little of a mystery to him. 
How would she take all this? — what would she say? — 
what effect would it have on her ? — he pondered these 
questions uneasily while he waited for her visit. 

But if Cotherstone had only known it, he need 
have suffered no anxiety about Lettie. It had fallen 
to Bent to tell her the sad news the afternoon before, 
and Bent had begged Brereton to go up to the house 
with him. Bent was upset; Brereton disliked the 
task, though he willingly shared in it. They need 
have had no anxiety, either. For Lettie listened 
calmly and patiently until the whole story had been 
told, showing neither alarm, nor indignation, nor ex- 
citement; her self -composure astonished even Bent, 



NO FURTHER EVIDENCE 246 

who thought, having been engaged to her for twelve 
months, that he knew her pretty well. 

**I understand exactly," said Lettie, when, between 
them, they had told her everything, laying particular 
stress on her father's version of things. **It is all 
very annoying, of course, but then it is quite simple, 
isn't it ? Of course, Mr. Mallalieu has been the guilty 
person all through, and poor father has been dragged 
into it. But then — all that you have told me has 
only to be put before the — who is it ? — magistrates ? — 
judges? — and then, of course, father will be entirely 
cleared, and Mr. Mallalieu will be hanged. Windle — 
of course we shall have to put off the wedding?" 

**0h, of course!" agreed Bent. "We can't have 
any weddings until all this business is cleared up.'* 

"That'll be so much better," said Lettie. "It 
really was becoming an awful rush." 

Brereton glanced at Bent when they left the house. 

"I congratulate you on having a fiancee of a 
well-balanced mind, old chap!" he said. "That 
was — a relief 1 ' ' 

' * Oh, Lettie 's a girl of singularly calm and equable 
temperament," answered Bent. "She's not easily 
upset, and she's quick at sizing things up. And I 
say, Brereton, I 've got to do all I can for Cotherstone, 
you know. What dbout his defence?" 

"I should imagine that Cotherstone is already ar- 
ranging his defence himself," said Brereton. "He 
struck me during that talk this morning at Tailing- 
ton's as being very well able to take care of himself, 
Bent, and I think you'll find when you visit him that 



246 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

he's already fixed things. You won't perhaps see 
why, and I won't explain just now, but this foolish 
running away of Mallalieu, who, of course, is sure to 
be caught, is very much in Cotherstone 's favour. I 
shall be much surprised if you don't find Cotherstone 
in very good spirits, and if there aren't developments 
in this affair within a day or two which will impress 
the whole neighbourhood." 

Bent, visiting the prisoner in company with Lettie 
next day, found Brereton's prediction correct. Coth- 
erstone, hearing from his daughter's own lips what 
she herself thought of the matter, and being reassured 
that all was well between Bent and her, became not 
Snerely confident but cheerily boastful. He would 
be free, and he would be cleared by that day next 
week — he was not sorry, he said, that at last all this 
had come out, for now he would be able to get rid of 
an incubus that had weighted him all his life. 

''You're very confident, you know," remarked 
Bent. 

"Not beyond reason," asserted Cotherstone dog- 
gedly. "You wait till tomorrow!" 

"What is there tomorrow?" asked Bent. 

* * The inquest on Stoner is tomorrow, ' ' replied Coth- 
erstone. "You be there — and see and hear what 
happens. ' ' 

All of Highmarket population that could cram itself 
into the Coroner's court was there next day when the 
adjourned inquest on the clerk's death was held. 
Neither Bent nor Brereton nor Tallington had any 
notion of what line was going to be taken by Cother- 
stone and his advisers, but Tallington and Brereton 



NO FURTHER EVIDENCE 247 

exchanged glanoes when Cothjerstone, in charge of 
two warders from Noroaster, was brought in, and when 
the Norcaster solicitor and the Norcaster barrister 
whom he had retained, shortly afterwards presented 
themselves. 

"I begin to foresee," whispered Tallington. 
* * Clever ! — devilish cLever ! ' ' 

"Just so," agreed Brereton, with a sidelong nod 
at the crowded seats close by. "And there's some- 
body who 's interested because it 's going to be devUish 
clever— that fellow Pett!" 

Christopher Pett was there, silk hat, black kid 
gloves and all, not afraid of being professionally 
curious. Curiosity was the order of the day: every- 
body present — of any intelligent perception — wanted 
to know what the presence of Cotherstone, one of the 
two men accused of the murder of Stoner, signified. 
But it was some little time before any curiosity was 
satisfied. The inquest being an adjourned one, most 
of the available evidence had to be taken, and as a 
coroner has a wide field in the calling of witnesses, 
there was more evidence produced before him and his 
jury than before the magistrates. There was Myler, 
of course, and old Pursey, and the sweethearting 
couple: there were other witnesses, railway folks, 
medical experts, and townspeople who could con- 
tribute some small quota of testimony. But all these 
were forgotten when at last Cotherstone, having been 
duly warned by the coroner that he need not give 
any evidence at all, determinedly entered the witness- 
box — to swear on oath that he was witness to his 
partner's crime. 



248 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

Nothing could shake Cotherstone 's evidence. He 
told a plain, straightforward story from first to last. 
He had no knowledge whatever of Stoner's having 
found out the secret of the Wilchester affair. He 
knew nothing of Stoner's having gone over to Dar- 
lington. On the Sunday he himself had gone up the 
moors for a quiet stroll. At the spinney overhang- 
ing Hobwick Quarry he had seen Mallalieu and 
Stoner, and had at once noticed that something in 
the shape of a quarrel was afoot. He saw Mallalieu 
strike heavily at Stoner with his oak stick — saw 
Mallalieu, in a sudden passion, kick the stick over 
the edge of the quarry, watched him go down into the 
quarry and eventually leave it. He told how he him- 
self had gone after the stick, recovered it, taken it 
home, and had eventually told the police where it 
was. He had never spoken to Mallalieu on that Sun- 
day — never seen him except under the circumstances 
just detailed. 

The astute barrister who represented Cotherstone 
had not troubled the Coroner and his jury much by 
asking questions of the various witnesses. But he had 
quietly elicited from all the medical men the definite 
opinion that death had been caused by the blow. 
And when Cotherstone 's evidence was over, the bar- 
rister insisted on recalling the two sweethearts, and 
he got out of them, separately (each being excluded 
from the court while the other gave evidence), that 
they had not seen Mallalieu and Cotherstone together, 
that Mallalieu had left the quarry some time before 
they saw Cotherstone, and that when Mallalieu passed 
them he seemed to be agitated and was muttering to 



NO FURTHER EVIDENCE 249 

himself, whereas in Cotherstone's manner they noticed 
nothing remarkable. 

Brereton, watching the faces of the jurymen, all 
tradesmen of the town, serious and anxious, saw the 
effect which Cotherstone 's evidence and the further 
admissions of the two sweethearts was having. And 
neither he nor Tallington — and certainly not Mr. 
Christopher Pett — ^was surprised when, in the gather- 
ing dusk of the afternoon, the inquest came to an 
end with a verdict of Wilful Murder against Anthony 
MallaUeu. 

"Your client is doing very well," observed Talling- 
ton to the Norcaster solicitor as they foregathered in 
an ante-room. 

**My client will be still better when he comes before 
your bench again," drily answered the other. "As 
you'll see!" 

"So that's the line you're taking?" said Tailing- 
ton quietly. "A good one — for him." 

"Every man for himself," remarked the Norcaster 
practitioner. "We're not concerned with Mallalieu 
— ^we're concerned about ourselves. See you when 
Cotherstone 's brought before your worthies next Tues- 
day. And — a word in your ear ! — it won 't be a long 
job, then," 

Long job or short job, the Highmarket Town Hall 
was packed to the doors when Cotherstone, after his 
week's detention, was again placed in the dock. This 
time, he stood there alone — and he looked around him 
with confidence and with not a few signs that he felt 
a sense of coming triumph. He listened with a quiet 
smile while the prosecuting counsel — sent down spe- 



250 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

cially from London to take charge — discussed with the 
magistrates the matter of Mallalieu's escape, and he 
showed more interest when he heard some police in- 
formation as to how that escape had been effected, 
and that up to then not a word had been heard and 
no trace found of the fugitive. And after that, as 
the prosecuting counsel bent over to exchange a whis- 
pered word with the magistrates' clerk, Cotherstone 
deliberately turned, and seeking out the place where 
Bent and Brereton sat together, favoured them with 
a peculiar glance. It was the glance of a man who 
wished to say "I told you! — ^now you'll see whether 
I was right ! ' ' 

"We're going to hear something — now!" whis- 
pered Brereton. 

The prosecuting counsel straightened himself and 
looked at the magistrates. There was a momentary 
hesitation on his part ; a» look of expectancy on the 
faces of the men on the bench ; a deep silence in the 
crowded court. The few words that came from the 
counsel were sharp and decisive. 

''There will be no further evidence against the 
prisoner now in the dock, your worships," he said. 
"The prosecution decides to withdraw the charge." 

In the buzz of excitement which followed the voice 
of the old chairman was scarcely audible as he glanced 
at Cotherstone. 

"You are discharged," he said abruptly. 

Cotherstone turned and left the dock. And for 
the second time he looked at Bent and Brereton in the 
same peculiar, searching way. Then, amidst a dead 
silence, he walked out of the court. 



CHAPTER XXVI 

THE VIRTUES OF SUSPICION 

During that week Mallalieu was to learn by sad 
experience that it is a very poor thing to acquire in- 
formation at second hand. There he was, a strictly- 
guarded — if a cosseted and pampered — prisoner, un- 
able to put his nose outside the cottage, and entirely 
dependent on Chris Pett for any and all news of the 
world which lay so close at hand and was just then 
so deeply and importantly interesting to him. Time 
hung very heavily on his hands. There were books 
enough on the shelves of his prison-parlour, but the 
late Kitely's taste had been of a purely professional 
nature, and just then Mallalieu had no liking for mur- 
der cases, criminal trials, and that sort of gruesome- 
ness. He was constantly asking for newspapers, and 
was skilfully put off — it was not within Christopher's 
scheme of things to let Mallalieu get any accurate no- 
tion of what was really going on. Miss Pett did not 
take in a newspaper ; Christopher invariably forgot to 
bring one in when he went to the town ; twice, being 
pressed by Mallalieu to remember, he brought back 
The Times of the day before — wherein, of course, 
Mallalieu failed to find anything about himself. And 

251 



252 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

it was about himself that he so wanted to hear, about 
how things were, how people talked of him, what the 
police said, what was happening generally, and his 
only source of information was Chris. 

Mr, Pett took good care to represent everything in 
his own fashion. He was assiduous in assuring Mal- 
lalieu that he was working in his interest with might 
and main; jealous in proclaiming his own and his 
aunt's intention to get him clear away to Norcaster. 
But he also never ceased dilating on the serious na- 
ture of that enterprise, never wearied in protesting 
how much risk he and Miss Pett were running ; never 
refrained from showing the captive how very black 
things were, and how much blacker they would be if 
it were not for his present gaolers' goodness. And 
when he returned to the cottage after the inquest on 
Stoner, his face was unusually long and grave as he 
prepared to tell Mallalieu the news. 

''Things are looking in a very bad way for you, 
Mr. Mallalieu," he whispered, when he was closeted 
with Mallalieu in the little room which the captive 
now hated fiercely and loathingly. "They look in a 
very bad way indeed, sir ! If you were in any other 
hands than ours, Mr. Mallalieu, I don't know what 
you'd do. We're running the most fearful risks on 
your behalf, we are indeed. Things is — dismal!'' 

Mallalieu 's temper, never too good, and all the 
worse for his enforced confinement, blazed up. 

"Hang it! why don't you speak out plain?" he 
snarled. "Say what you mean, and be done with 
it ! What's up now, like? Things are no worse than 
they were, I reckon." 



THE VIRTUES OF SUSPICION 253 

Christopher slowly drew off one of the black kid 
gloves, and blew into it before laying it on the table. 

**No need to use strong language, Mr. Mallalieu," 
he said deprecatingly, as he calmly proceeded to di- 
vest the other hand. *'No need at all, sir — between 
friends and gentlemen, Mr. Mallalieu! — ^things are a 
lot worse. The coroner's jury has returned a verdict 
of wilful murder — against you!" 

Mallalieu 's big face turned of a queer grey hue — 
that word murder was particularly distasteful to him. 

"Against me!" he muttered. "Why me par- 
ticularly? There were two of us charged. "What 
about Cotherstone ? " 

"I'm talking about the inquest" said Christopher. 
"They don't charge anybody at inquests — they only 
inquire in general. The verdict's against you, and 
you only. And — it was Cotherstone 's evidence that 
did it!" 

"Cotherstone!" exclaimed Mallalieu. "Evidence 
against me! He's a liar if " 

" I '11 tell you — all in due order, ' ' interrupted Chris. 
"Be calm, Mr. Mallalieu, and listen — ^be judicial." 

But in spite of this exhortation, Mallalieu fumed 
and fretted, and when Christopher had told him 
everything he looked as if it only required a little 
resolution on his part to force himself to action. 

"I've a good mind to go straight out o' this place 
and straight down to the police!" he growled. "I 
have indeed ! — a great mind to go and give myself up, 
and have things proved." 

"Do!" said Christopher, heartily. "I wish you 
would, sir. It 'ud save me and my poor aunt a world 



254* THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

of trouble. Only — it's my duty as a duly qualified 
solicitor of the High Court to inform you that every 
step you take from this haven of refuge will be a step 
towards the — gallows!" 

Mallalieu shrank back in his chair and stared at 
Mr. Pett's sharp features. His own blanched once 
more. 

''You're sure of that?" he demanded hoarsely. 

"Certain!" replied Christopher. "No doubt of it, 
sir. I know ! ' ' 

"What's to be done, then?" asked the captive. 

Christopher assumed his best consultation-and-ad- 
vice manner. 

"What," he said at last, "in my opinion, is the best 
thing is to wait and see what happens when Cother- 
stone's brought up before the bench next Tuesday. 
You're safe enough until then — so long as you do what 
we tell you. Although all the country is being 
watched and searched, there's not the ghost of a no- 
tion that you're in Highmarket. So remain as con- 
tent as you can, Mr. Mallalieu, and as soon as we learn 
what takes place next Tuesday, we'll see about that 
plan of ours. ' ' 

"Let's be knowing what it is," grumbled Mallalieu. 

"Not quite matured, sir, yet," said Christopher 
as he rose and picked up the silk hat and the kid 
gloves. "But when it is, you'll say — ah, you'll say 
it 's a most excellent one ! ' ' 

So Mallalieu had to wait until the next Tuesday 
came round. He did the waiting impatiently and 
restlessly. He ate, he drank, he slept — slept as he 
had never slept in his life — but he knew that he was 



THE VIRTUES OF SUSPICION 255 

losing flesh from anxiety. It was with real con- 
cern that he glanced at Christopher when that worthy- 
returned from the adjourned case on the Tuesday af- 
ternoon. His face fell when he saw that Christopher 
was gloomier than ever. 

"Worse and worse, Mr. Mallalieu!" whispered 
Christopher mysteriously when he had shut the door. 
' ' Everything 's against you, sir. It 's all centring and 
fastening on you. What do you think happened? 
Cotherstone 's discharged ! ' ' 

"What!" exclaimed Mallalieu, jumping in his 
chair. "Discharged! Why, then, they'd have dis- 
charged me ! " 

Christopher laid his finger on the side of his nose. 

"Would they?" he said with a knowing wink. 
"Not much they wouldn't. Cotherstone 's let loose — 
to give evidence against you. When you're caught !" 

Mallalieu 's small eyes began to bulge, and a dull 
red to show on his cheek. He looked as if he were 
bursting with words which he could not get out, and 
Christopher Pett hastened to improve the occasion. 

"It's my opinion it's all a plant!" he said. "A 
conspiracy, if you like, between Cotherstone and the 
authorities. Cotherstone, he's got the smartest solici- 
tor in Noreaster and the shrewdest advocate on this 
circuit — you know 'em, Mr. Mallalieu — Stilby's the 
solicitor, and Gradston the barrister — and it strikes me 
it's a put-up job. D 'ye see through it ? First of all, 
Cotherstone gives evidence at that inquest : on his evi- 
dence a verdict of murder is returned against — you ! 
Now Cotherstone 's discharged by the magistrates — no 
further evidence being offered against him. Why? 



266 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

So that he can give evidence before the magistrates 
and at the Assizes against — you! That is — ^when 
you're caught." 

"They've got to catch me yet," growled Mallalieu. 
*'Now then — what about this plan of yours? For I'm 
going to wait no longer. Either you tell me what 
you're going to do for me, or I shall walk out o' that 
door as soon as it 's dark tonight and take my chances. 
D'ye hear that?" 

Christopher rose, opened the door, and softly called 
Miss Pett. And Miss Pett came, took a seat, folded 
her thin arms, and looked attentively at her learned 
nephew. 

**Ye8, sir," said Chritopher, reumisg the con- 
versation, "I hear that — and we are now ready to ex- 
plain plans and discuss terms. You will, of course, 
recompense us, Mr. Mallalieu?" 

''I've said all along that you'd not lose by me," 
retorted Mallalieu. "Aught in reason, I'll pay. But 
— this plan o' yours? I'm going to know what it is 
before we come to any question of paying. So out 
with it!" 

"Well, it's an excellent plan," responded Christo- 
pher. "You say that you'll be safe if you're set 
down in a certain part of Norcaster — near the docks. 
Now that will suit our plans exactly. You're aware, 
of course, Mr, Mallalieu, that my aunt here is about 
to remove her goods and chattels — ^bequeathed by Mr. 
Kitely, deceased — from this house? Very well — the 
removal's to take place tomorrow. I have already ar- 
ranged with Mr. Strawson, furniture remover, to send 
up a couple of vans tomorrow morning, very early. 



THE VIRTUES OF SUSPICION 257 

Into those vans the furniture will be placed, and the 
vans will convey it to Norcaster, whence they will be 
transshipped bodily to London, by sea. Mr. Mal- 
lalieu — ^you '11 leave here, sir, in one of those vans ! ' ' 

Mallalieu listened, considered, began to see possi- 
bilities. 

"Aye!" he said, with a cunning glance. **Aye! 
— that's not a bad notion. I can see my way in tha!- 
respect. But — how am I going to get into a van here, 
and got out of it there, without the vanmen 
knowing ? ' ' 

''I've thought it all out," answered Christopher. 
"You must keep snug in this room until afternoon. 
We'll get the first van off in the morning — say by 
noon. I'll so contrive that the second van won't be 
ready to start until after it's dusk. When it is 
ready the men '11 go down to fetch their horses — I'll 
give 'em something to get themselves a drink before 
they come back — that '11 delay 'em a bit longer. And 
while they're away, we'll slip you into the van — and 
I shall go with that van to Norcaster. And when we 
get to the shed at Norcaster where the vans are to be 
left, the two men will go away with their horses — 
and I shall let you out. It's a good plan, Mr.Malla- 
Heu." 

"It'll do, anyhow," agreed Mallalieu, who felt 
heartily relieved. * ' We '11 try it. But you must take 
all possible care until I 'm in, and we 're off. The least 
bit of a slip " 

Mr. Pett drily remarked that if any slips occurred 
they would not be of his making — after which both 



258 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

he and his aunt coughed several times and looked at 
the guest-prisoner in a fashion which seemed to invite 
speech from him. 

' ' All right then, ' ' said Mallalieu. ' ' Tomorrow, you 
say? All right— all right!" 

Miss Pett coughed again and began to make pleats 
in her apron. 

*'0f course, Christopher," she said, addressing her 
nephew as if there were no other person present, ''of 
course, Mr. Mallalieu has not yet stated his terms." 

"Oh! — ah! — just so!" replied Christopher, start- 
ing as from a pensive reverie. "Ah, to be sure. 
Now, what would you say, Mr. Mallalieu? How do 
you feel disposed, sir ? " 

Mallalieu looked fixedly from aunt to nephew, from 
nephew to aunt. Then his face became hard and 
rigid. 

"Fifty pound apiece!" he said. "That's how I'm 
disposed. And you don't get an offer like that every 
day, I know. Fifty pound apiece!" 

Miss Pett inclined her turbaned head towards her 
right shoulder and sighed heavily: Mr. Pett folded 
his hands, looked at the ceiling, and whistled. 

""We don't get an offer like that every day!" he 
murmured. "No! — I should think we didn't! Fifty 
pound apiece ! — a hundred pound altogether — for sav- 
ing a fellow-creature from the gallows ! Oh, Mr. Mal^ 
lalieu!" 

"Hang it! — ^how much money d'ye think I'm likely 
to carry on me ? — me ! — in my unfortunate position ! ' ' 

snarled Mallalieu. "D'ye think " 

"Christopher," observed Miss Pett, rising and 



THE VIRTUES OF SUSPICION 259 

making for the door, * ' I should suggest that Mr. MaL 
lalieu is left to consider matters. Perhaps when he's 
reflected a bit " 

She and her nephew went out, leaving Mallalieu 
fuming and grumbling. And once in the living-room 
she turned to Christopher with a shake of the head. 

"What did I tell you?" she said. "Mean as a 
miser! My plan's much the best. We'll help our- 
selves — and then we can snap our fingers at him. I '11 
give him an extra strong nightcap tonight, and 
then ..." 

But before the close of that evening came Malla- 
lieu 's notions underwent a change. He spent the 
afternoon in thinking. He knew that he was in the 
power of two people who, if they could, would skin 
him. And the more he thought, the more he began 
to be suspicious — and suddenly he wondered why he 
slept so heavily at night, and all of a sudden he saw 
the reason. Drugged! — that old she-devil was drug- 
ging his drink. That was it, of course — but it had 
been for the last time: she shouldn't do it again. 

That night when Miss Pett brought the hot toddy, 
mixed according to the recipe of the late Kitely, 
Mallalieu took it at his door, saying he was arrayed 
for sleep, and would drink it when in bed. After 
which he carefully poured it into a flower-pot that 
graced his room, and when he presently lay down it 
was with eyes and ears open and his revolver ready 
to his right hand. 



CHAPTKE XXVn 

MR. WRAYTHWAITE OF WRAYE 

Had the Mayor of Highmarket, lying there sullen 
and suspicious, only known what was taking place 
close to him at that very moment, only known what 
had been happening in his immediate vicinity during 
the afternoon and evening, he might have taken some 
course of action which would have prevented what 
was shortly to come. But he knew nothing — except 
that he was angry, and full of doubts, and cursed 
everything and everybody that had led to this evil 
turn in his fortunes, and was especially full of vin- 
dictiveness towards the man and woman in the next 
room, who, as he felt sure, were trying to take ad- 
vantage of his present helplessness. And meanwhile, 
not far away, things were going on — and they had 
been going on all that day since noon. 

Brereton, going away from Highmarket Town Hall 
after the dramatic discharge of Cotherstone, was sud- 
denly accosted by a smart-looking young man whom, 
at first glance, he knew to be in some way connected 
with the law. 

"Mr. Gifford Brereton?" inquired this stranger. 
**I have a note for you, sir." 

£60 



MR. WRAYTHWAITE OF WRAYE 261 

' Brereton took the note and stepped aside into a 
quiet corner: the young man followed and stood 
near. To Brereton 's surprise he found himself look- 
ing at a letter in the handwriting of a London solicitor 
who had two or three times favoured him with a brief. 
He hastily glanced through its contents : — 

"The Duke's Head Hotjil., 

Norcaster. 
**Deab Me, Brereton, — 

"I have just arrived at this place on business which 
is closely connected with that which you have in hand. 
I shall be much obliged if you join me here at once, 
bringing with you the daughter of your client Har- 
borough — it is important that she should accompany 
you. The bearer will have a car in readiness for you. 

Yours sincerely, 

''H. C. Carfax." 

Brereton put the note in his pocket and turned to 
the messenger. 

"Mr. Carfax wishes me to return with you to Nor- 
caster," he remarked. "He mentions a car." 

"Here, Mr. Brereton — round the corner — a good 
one, that will run us there in twenty minutes," re- 
plied the messenger. 

"There's a call to make first," said Brereton. He 
went round the comer with his companion and rec- 
ognized in the chauffeur who waited there a man who 
had once or twice driven him from Norcaster of late. 
"Ah!" he said, "I daresay you know where Mrs. 
Northrop lives in this town — up near the foot of the 
Shawl? You do? — riui us up there, then. Are you 
one of Mr. Carfax's clerks?" he asked when he and 



262 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

the messenger had got into the car. "Have you come 
down with him from London?" 

"No, sir — I am a clerk at Willerby & Hargreaves' 
in Norcaster," replied the messenger. "Carfax and 
Spillington are our London agents. Mr. Carfax and 
some other gentlemen came down from town first 
thing this morning, and Mr. Carfax got me to bring 
you that note." 

"You don't know what he wants to see me about?" 
asked Brereton, who was already curious to the point 
of eagerness. 

"Well, sir, I have a pretty good idea," answered 
the clerk, with a smile, "but I think Mr. Carfax 
would rather tell you everything himself. We shall 
soon be there, Mr. Brereton — if the young lady doesn't 
keep us." 

Brereton ran into Northrop 's house and carried 
Avice off with scant ceremony. 

"This, of course, has something to do with your 
father's case," he said, as he led her down to the car. 
"It may be — but no, we won't anticipate! Only — 
I'm certain things are going to right themselves. 
Now then!" he called to the driver as they joined 
the clerk. "Get along to Norcaster as fast as 
you can. 

Within half an hour the car stopped at the old- 
fashioned gateway of the Duke's Head in Norcaster 
market-place, and the clerk immediately led his two 
companions into the hotel and upstairs to a private 
sitting-room, at the door of which he knocked. A 
voice bade him enter ; he threw the door open and an- 
nounced the visitors. 



MR. WRAYTHWAITE OF WRAYE 263 

*'Miss Harborough — Mr. Brereton, Mr. Carfax," he 
said. 

Brereton glanced sharply at the men who stood in 
the room, evidently expectant of his and his com- 
panion's arrival. Carfax, a short, middle-aged man, 
quick and bustling in manner, he, of course, knew: 
the others were strangers. Two of them Brereton in- 
stantly set down as detectives ; there were all the marks 
and signs of the craft upon them. They stood in a 
window, whispering together, and at them Brereton 
gave but a glance. But at the fourth man, who stood 
on the hearthrug, he looked long and hard. And his 
thoughts immediately turned to the night on which he 
and Avice had visited the old woman who lived in the 
lonely house on the moors and to what she had said 
about a tall man who had met Harborough in her 
presence — a tall, bearded man. For the man who 
stood there before him, looking at Avice with an in- 
terested, somewhat wistful smile, was a tall, bearded 
man — a man past middle age, who looked as if he had 
seen a good deal of the far-off places of the world. 

Carfax had hurried forward, shaken hands with 
Brereton, and turned to Avice while Brereton was 
making this rapid inspection. 

"So here you are, Brereton — and this young lady, 
I suppose, is Miss Harborough?" he said, drawing a 
chair forward. "Glad you've come — and I daresay 
you're wondering why you've been sent for? Well — 
all in good time, but first — this gentleman is Mr. 
John Wraythwaite. " 

The big man started forward, shook hands hastily 
with Brereton, and turned more leisurely to Avice. 



264. THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

"My dear young lady!" he said. "I — I— the fact 
is, I'm an old friend of your father's, and — and it 
will be very soon now that he's all right — and all that 
sort of thing, you know! You don't know me, of 
course. ' ' 

Avice looked up at the big, bearded figure and from 
it to Brereton. 

"No!" she said. "But — I think it was you who 
sent that money to Mr. Brereton. ' ' 

"Ah! you're anticipating, young lady!" exclaimed 
Carfax, "Yes — we've a lot of talking to do. And 
we'd better all sit down and do it comfortably. One 
moment," he continued, and turned away to the two 
men in the window, who, after a few words with him, 
left the room. "Now then — we'll do our first part of 
the business, Brereton ! " he went on, as they all took 
seats at a table near the fire. "You, of course, don't 
know who this gentleman is ? " 

"Not at all," replied Brereton. 

"Very good!" continued Carfax, rubbing his hands 
as if in enjoyment of the situation. "Then you've 
some interesting facts to hear about him. To begin 
with, he 's the man who, when your client, this young 
lady's father, is brought up at these coming Assizes, 
will prove a complete alibi on his behalf. In other 
words, he's the man with whom Harborough was in 
company during the evening and the greater part of 
the night on which Kitely was murdered." 

"I thought so," said Brereton. He looked reflec- 
tively at Mr. Wraythwaite. "But why did you not 
come forward at once ? " he asked. 

"My advice — my advice!" exclaimed Carfax has- 



MR. WRAYTHWAITE OF WRAYE 265 

tily. "I'm going to explain the reasons. Now, you 
won't understand, Brereton, but Miss Harborough, 
I think, will know what I mean, or she'll have some 
idea, when I say that this gentleman is now — ^now, 
mind you ! — Mr. Wraythwaite of Wraye. ' ' 

Avice looked up quickly with evident compre- 
hension, and the solicitor nodded. 

**You see — she knows," he went on, turning to 
Brereton. "At least, that conveys something to her. 
But it doesn 't to you. Well, my dear sir, if you were 
a native of these parts it would. Wraye is one of the 
oldest and most historic estates between here and the 
Tweed — everybody knows Wraye. And everybody 
knows too that there has been quite a romance about 
Wraye for some time — since the last Wraythwaite 
died, in fact. That Wraythwaite was a confirmed old 
bachelor. He lived to a great age — he outlived all his 
brothers and sisters, of whom he'd had several. He 
left quite a tribe of nephews and nieces, who were dis- 
tributed all over the world. Needless to say, there 
was vast bother and trouble. Finally, one of the 
nephews made a strong claim to the estate, as being 
the eldest known heir. And he was until recently in 
good trim for establishing his claim, when my client 
here arrived on the scene. For he is the eldest 
nephew — he is the rightful heir — and I am thankful 
to say that — only within this last day or two — his 
claim has been definitely recognized and established, 
and all without litigation. Everything," continued 
Carfax, again rubbing his hands with great satisfac- 
tion, "everything is now all right, and Mr. Wrayth- 



266 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

waite of Wraye will take his proper and rightful place 
amongst his own people." 

"I'm exceedingly glad to hear it," said Brereton, 
with a smile at the big man, who continued to watch 
Avice as if his thoughts were with her rather than 
with his solicitor's story. "But — ^you'll understand 
that I'd like to know how all this affects my client?" 

' ' Ye— yes ! ' ' said Mr. Wraythwaite, hastily. ' ' Tell 
Mr. Brereton, Carfax — never mind me and my affairs 
— get on to poor Harborough." 

"Your affair and Harborough 's are inextricably 
mixed, my dear sir," retorted Carfax, good-humour- 
edly. "I'm coming to the mingling of them. Well," 
he continued, addressing himself again to Brereton. 
"This is how things are — or were. I must tell you 
that the eldest brother of the late Squire of Wraye 
married John Harborough 's aunt — secretly. They 
had not been married long before the husband emi- 
grated. He went off to Australia, leaving his wife be- 
hind until he had established himself — ^there had been 
differences between him and his family, and he was 
straitened in means. In his absence our friend here 
was born — and at the same time, sad to say, his 
mother died. The child was brought up by Harbor- 
ough 's mother — Mr. Wraythwaite and Harborough 
are foster-brothers. It remained in the care of Har- 
borough 's mother — ^who kept the secret of the mar- 
riage — until it was seven years old. Then, opportu- 
nity occurring, it was taken to its father in Australia, 
The father, Matthew Wraythwaite, made a big for- 
tune in Australia, sheep-farming. He never married 
again, and the fortune, of course, came at his death to 



MR. WRAYTHWAITE OF WRAYE 267 

his only son — our friend. Now, he had been told of 
the secret marriage of his father, but, being possessed 
of an ample fortune himself, he concerned himself 
little about the rest of the old family. However, a 
year or so ago, happening to read in the newspapers 
about the death of the old Squire, his uncle, and the 
difficulty of definitely deciding the real heirship, he 
came over to England, But he had no papers relat- 
ing to his father's marriage, and he did not know 
where it had taken place. At that time he had not 
consulted me — in fact, he had consulted no one. If 
he had consulted me, ' ' continued Carfax, with a know- 
ing wink at Brereton, "we should have put him right 
in a few hours. But he kept off lawyers — and he 
sought out the only man he could remember — his 
foster-brother, Harborough. And by Harborough's 
advice, they met secretly. Harborough did not know 
where that marriage had taken place — he had to make 
inquiries all over this district — he had to search regis- 
ters. Now and then, my client — not my client then, 
of course — came to see Harborough; when he did so, 
he and Harborough met in quiet places. And on the 
night on which that man Kitely was murdered," con- 
cluded the solicitor, ** Harborough was with my client 
from nine o'clock until half -past four in the morn- 
ing, when he parted with him near Hexendale railway 
station. Mr. Wraythwaite will swear that." 

''And fortunately, we have some corroboration," 
observed Brereton, with a glance at Avice, "for 
whether Mr. Wraythwaite knows it or not, his meet- 
ing with Harborough on the moors that particular 
night was witnessed." 



268 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

"Capital — capital!" exclaimed Carfax. "By a 
credible — and creditable — witness ? ' ' 

"An old woman of exceptional character," an- 
swered Brereton, "except that she indulges herself 
in a little night-poaching now and then." 

"Ah, well, we needn't tell that when she goes into 
the witness-box," said Carfax. "But that's most sat- 
isfactory. My dear young lady!" he added, turning 
to Avice, "your father will be released like — like one 
o'clock! And then, I think," he went on bustling 
round on the new Squire of Wraye, "then, my dear, 
I think Mr. Wraythwaite here " 

"Leave that to me, Carfax," interrupted Mr. Wray- 
thwaite, with a nod at Avice. "I'll tell this young 
lady all about that myself. In the meantime " 

"Ah, just so!" responded Carfax. "In the mean- 
time, we have something not so interesting or pleas- 
ing, but extremely important, to tell Mr. Brereton. 
Brereton — how are things going? Has any fresh 
light been thrown on the Kitely murder? Nothing 
really certain and definite you say? Very weU, my 
dear sir — then you will allow me to throw some light 
on it!" 

So saying, Carfax rose from his chair, quitted the 
room — and within another minute returned, solemnly 
escorting the two detectives. 



CHAPTER XXVm 

PAGES FROM THE PAST 

Before the solicitor and his companions could seat 
themselves at the table whereat the former's pre- 
liminary explanation had been made, Mr. Wray- 
thwaite got up and motioned Avice to follow his ex- 
ample. 

"Carfax," he said, "there's no need for me to 
listen to all that you've got to tell Mr, Brereton — 
I know it already. And I don't think it will partic- 
ularly interest Miss Harborough at the moment — she'll 
hear plenty about it later on. She and I will leave 
you — make your explanations and your arrangements, 
and we'll join you later on." 

He led the way to the door, beckoning Avice to 
accompany him. But Avice paused and turned to 
Brereton. 

"You feel sure that it is all right now about my 
father?" she said. "You feel certain? If you 
do " 

"Yes — absolutely," answered Brereton, who knew 
what her question meant. "And — ^we will let him 
know. ' ' 

"He knows!" exclaimed Carfax. "That is, he 

269 



270 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

knows that Mr. Wraythwaite is here, and that every- 
thing's all right. Run away, my dear young lady, 
and be quite happy — Mr. Wraythwaite will tell you 
everything you want to know. And now, my dear 
sir," he continued, as he shut the door on Wray- 
thwaite and Aviee and bustled back to the table,' ' there 
are things that you want to know, and that you are 
going to know — from me and from these two gentle- 
men. Mr. Stobb — ^IVIr. Leykin. Both ex-Scotland 
Yard men, and now in business for themselves as 
private inquiry agents. Smart fellows — though I say 
it to their faces." 

"I gather from that that you have been doing some 
private inquiry work, then?" said Brereton. "In 
connexion with what, now?" 

"Let us proceed in order," answered Carfax, tak- 
ing a seat at the head of the table and putting his 
fingers together in a judicial attitude. "I will open 
the case. When Wraythwaite — a fine fellow, who, 
between ourselves, is going to do great things for Har- 
borough and his daughter — when Wraythwaite, I say, 
heard of what had happened down here, he was nat- 
urally much upset. His first instinct was to rush 
to Highmarket at once and tell everything. How- 
ever, instead of doing that, he very wisely came to me. 
Having heard all that he had to tell, I advised him, as 
it was absolutely certain that no harm could come to 
Harborough in the end, to let matters rest for the 
time being, until we had put the finishing touches 
to his own affair. He, however, insisted on sending 
you that money — ^which was done : nothing else would 
satisfy him. But now arose a deeply interesting 



PAGES FROM THE PAST 271 

phase of the whole affair — ^whieh has been up to now 
kept secret between Wraythwaite, myself, and Messrs. 
Stobb and Leykin there. To it I now invite your 
attention. ' ' 

Mr. Carfax here pulled out a memorandum book 
from his pocket, and having 'fitted on his spectacles 
glanced at a page or two within it. 

"Now," he presently continued, ''Wraythwaite be- 
ing naturally deeply interested in the Kitely case, he 
procured the local newspapers — Norcaster and High- 
market papers, you know — so that he could read all 
about it. There was in those papers a full report 
of the first proceedings before the magistrates, and 
"Wraythwaite was much struck by your examination of 
the woman Miss Pett. In fact, he was so much struck 
by your questions and her replies that he brought the 
papers to me, and we read them together. And, al- 
though we knew well enough that we should eventually 
have no difficulty whatever in proving an alibi in 
Harborough's behalf, we decided that in his interest 
we would make a few guarded but strict inquiries 
into Miss Pett's antecedents." 

Brereton started. Miss Pett! Ah! — he had had 
ideas respecting Miss Pett at the beginning of things, 
but other matters had cropped up, and affairs had 
moved and developed so rapidly that he had almost 
forgotten her. 

"That makes you think," continued Carfax, with 
a smile. "Just so! — and what took place at that 
magistrates' sitting made "Wraythwaite and myself 
think. And, as I say, we employed Stobb and Leykin, 
men of great experience, to — just find out a little 



2T2 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

about Miss Pett. Of course, Miss Pett herself had 
given us something to go on. She had told you some 
particulars of her career. She had been housekeeper 
to a Major Stilman, at Kandahar Cottage, Woking. 
She had occupied posts at two London hotels. So — 
Stobb went to Woking, and Leykin devoted himself 
to the London part of the business. 

"And I think, Stobb," concluded the solicitor, turn- 
ing to one of the inquiry agents, "I think you'd better 
tell Mr. Brereton what you found out at Woking, and 
then Leykin can tell us what he brought to light else- 
where." 

Stobb, a big, cheery-faced man, who looked like a 
highly respectable publican, turned to Brereton with 
a smile. 

"It was a very easy job, sir," he said. "I found 
out all about the lady and her connexion with Wok- 
ing in a very few hours. There are plenty of folk at 
Woking who remember Miss Pett — ^she gave you the 
mere facts of her residence there correctly enough. 
But — naturally — she didn't tell you more than the 
mere facts, the surface, as it were. Now, I got at 
everything. Miss Pett was housekeeper at Woking to 
a Major Stilman, a retired officer of an infantry regi- 
ment. All the time she was with him — some consid- 
erable period — he was more or less of an invalid, and 
he was well known to suffer terribly from some form 
of neuralgia. He got drugs to alleviate the pain of 
that neuralgia from every chemist in the place, one 
time or another. And one day. Major Stilman was 
found dead in bed, with some of these drugs by his 
bedside. Of course an inquest was held, and, equally 



PAGES FROM THE PAST 273 

of course, the evidence of doctors and chemists being" 
what it was, a verdict of death from misadventure — 
overdose of the stuff, you know — was returned. 
Against Miss Pett there appears to have been no sus- 
picion in Woking at that time — and for the matter of 
that," concluded Mr. Stobb drily, "I don't know that 
there is now." 

"You have some yourself?" suggested Brereton. 

**I went into things further," answered Mr. Stobb, 
with the ghost of a wink. "I found out how things 
were left — by Stilman, Stilman had nothing but his 
pension and a capital sum of about two thousand 
pounds. He left that two thousand, and the furniture 
of his house, to Miss Pett. The will had been executed 
about a twelvemonth before Stilman died. It was 
proved as quickly as could be after his death, and of 
course Miss Pett got her legacy. She sold the furni- 
ture — and left the neighbourhood. ' ' 

"What is your theory?" asked Brereton. 

Mr. Stobb nodded across the table at Carfax. 

"Not my business to say what my theories are, Mr. 
Brereton," he answered. "All I had to do was to 
find out facts, and report them to Mr. Carfax and 
Mr. Wraythwaite. " 

"All the same, said Brereton quietly, "you think 
it quite possible that Miss Pett, knowing that Stilman 
took these strong doses, and having a pecuniary mo- 
tive, gave him a still stronger one ? Come, now ! ' ' 

Stobb smiled, rubbed his chin and looked at Carfax. 
And Carfax pointed to Stobb 's partner, a very quiet, 
observant man who had listened with a sly expression 
on his face. 



274 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

'*Your turn, Leykin," he said. *'Tell the result of 
your inquiries." 

Leykin was one of those men who possess soft 
voices and slow speech. Invited to play his part, 
he looked at Brereton as if he were half apologizing 
for anything he had to say. 

"Well," he said, "of course, sir, what Miss Pett 
told you about her posts at two London hotels was 
quite right. She had been storekeeper at one, and 
linen-keeper at another — before she went to Major 
Stilman. There was nothing against her at either of 
those places. But of course I wanted to know more 
about her than that. Now she said in answer to you 
that before she went to the first of those hotels she 
had lived at home with her father, a Sussex farmer. 
So she had — ^but it was a long time before. She had 
spent ten years in India between leaving home and 
going to the Royal Belvedere. She went out to India 
as a nurse in an officer's family. And while she was 
in India she was charged with strangling a fellow- 
servant — a Eurasian girl who had excited her 
jealousy. ' ' 

Brereton started again at that, and he turned a 
sharp glance on Carfax, who nodded emphatically 
and signed to Leykin to -proceed. 

"I have the report of that affair in my pocket," 
continued Leykin, more softly and slowly than ever. 
"It's worth reading, Mr. Brereton, and perhaps 
you'll amuse yourself with it sometime. But I can 
give you the gist of it in a few words. Pett was 
evidently in love with her master's orderly. He 
wasn't in love with her. She became madly jealous 



PAGES FROM THE PAST 275 

of this Eurasian girl, who was under-nurse. The 
Eurasian girl was found near the house one night 
with a cord tightly twisted round her neck — dead, 
of course. There were no other signs of violence, 
but some gold ornaments which the girl wore had 
disappeared. Pett was tried — and she was dis- 
charged, for she set up an alibi — of a sort that 
wouldn't have satisfied me," remarked Leykin in an 
aside. "But there was a queer bit of evidence given 
which you may tkink of use now. One of the wit- 
nesses said that Pett had been much interested in read- 
ing some book about the methods of the Thugs, and 
had talked in the servants' quarters of how they 
strangled their victims with shawls of the finest silk. 
Now this Eurasian girl had been strangled with a 
silk handkerchief — and if that handkerchief could 
only have been traced to Pett, she'd have been found 
guilty. But, as I said, she was found not guilty — 
and she left her place at once and evidently returned 
to England. That's all, sir." 

**Stobb has a matter that might be mentioned," 
said Carfax, glancing at the other inquiry agent. 

"Well, it's not much, Mr. Brereton," said Stobb. 
"It's merely that we've ascertained that Kitely had 
left all he had to this woman, and that " 

* * I know that, ' ' interrupted Brereton. * ' She made 
no concealment of it. Or, rather, her nephew, acting 
for her, didn't." 

"Just so," remarked Stobb drily. "But did you 
know that the nephew had already proved the will, 
and sold the property? No? — well, he has! Not 
much time lost, you see, after the old man's death, sir. 



276 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

In fact, it's been done about as quickly as it well 
could be done. And of course Miss Pett will have re- 
ceived her legacy — ^which means that by this time 
she'll have got all that Kitely had to leave." 

Brereton turned to the solicitor, who, during the 
recital of facts by the two inquiry agents, had main- 
tained his judicial attitude, as if he v'^tre on the 
bench and listening to the opening statements of 
counsel. 

"Are you suggesting, all of you that you think 
Miss Pett murdered Kitely?" he asked. ''I should 
like a direct answer to that question." 

*'My dear sir!" exclaimed Carfax. ''What does 
it look like? You've heard the woman's record! 
The probability is that she did murder that Eurasian 
girt — that she took advantage of Stilman's use of drugs 
to finish him off. She certainly benefited by Stil- 
man's death — and she's without doubt benefited by 
Kitely 's. I repeat — what does it look like?" 

"What do you propose to do?" asked Brereton. 

The inquiry agents glanced at each other and then 
at Carfax. And Carfax slowly took off his spectacles 
with a flourish, and looked more judicial than ever 
as he answered the young barrister's question. 

"I will tell you what I propose to do," he replied. 
* ' I propose to take these two men over to Highmarket 
this evening and to let them tell the Highmarket police 
all they have just told you!" 



CHAPTER XXIX 

WITHOUT THOUGHT OF CONSEQUENCE 

Everything was very quiet in the house where Mal- 
lalieu lay wide-awake and watchful. It seemed to him 
that he had never known it so quiet before. It was 
quiet at all times, both day and night, for Miss Pett 
had a habit of going about like a cat, and Christopher 
was decidedly of the soft-footed order, and stepped 
from one room to another as if he were perpetually 
afraid of waking somebody or trusting his own weight 
on his own toes. But on this particular night the 
silence seemed to be unusual — and it was all the 
deeper because no sound, not even the faint sighing 
of the wind in the firs and pines outside came to break 
it. And Mallalieu's nerves, which had gradually be- 
come sharpened and irritated by his recent adventures 
and his close confinement, became still more irritable, 
still more set on edge, and it was with difficulty that 
he forced himself to lie still and to listen. More- 
over, he was feeling the want of the stuff which had 
soothed him into such sound slumber every night since 
he had been taken in charge by Miss Pett, and he 
knew very well that though he had flung it away his 
whole system was crying out for the lack of it. 



278 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

What were those two devils after, he wondered 
as he lay there in the darkness! No good — that was 
certain. Now that he came to reflect upon it their 
conduct during the afternoon and evening had not 
been of a reassuring sort. Christopher had kept en- 
tirely away from him; he had not seen Christopher 
at all since the discussion of the afternoon, which Miss 
Pett had terminated so abruptly. He had seen Miss 
Pett twice or thrice — Miss Pett's attitude on each 
occasion had been that of injured innocence. She had 
brought him his tea in silence, his supper with no 
more than a word. It was a nice supper — she set it 
before him with an expression which seemed to say 
that however badly she herself was treated, she would 
do her duty by others. And Mallalieu, seeing that 
expression, had not been able to refrain from one of 
his sneering remarks. 

''Think yourself very badly done to, don't you, 
missis ! " he had exclaimed with a laugh. ' * Think I 'm 
a mean 'un, what ? ' ' 

' ' I express no opinion, Mr. Mallalieu, ' ' replied Miss 
Pett, frigidly and patiently. "I think it better for 
people to reflect. A night 's reflection, ' ' she continued 
as she made for the door, "oft brings wisdom, even 
to them as doesn't usually cultivate it." 

Mallalieu had no objection to the cultivation of 
wisdom — for his own benefit, and he was striving to 
produce something from the process as he lay there, 
waiting. But he said to himself that it was easy 
enough to be wise after the event — and for him the 
event had happened. He was in the power of these 
two, whom he had long since recognized as an un- 



WITHOUT THOUGHT 279 

scrupulous woman and a shifty man. They had noth- 
ing to do but hand him over to the police if they 
liked : for anything he knew, Chris Pett might already 
have played false and told the police of affairs at the 
cottage. And yet on deeper reflection, he did not 
think that possible — for it was evident that aunt and 
nephew were after all they could get, and they would 
get nothing from the police authorities, while they 
might get a good deal from him. But — what did they 
expect to get from him? He had been a little per- 
plexed by their attitude when he asked them if they 
expected him to carry a lot of money on him — a 
fugitive. Was it possible — ^the thought came to him 
like a thunderclap in the darkness — that they knew, 
or had some idea, of what he really had on him? 
That Miss Pett had drugged him every night he now 
felt sure — well, then, in that case how did he know 
that she hadn't entered his room and searched his be- 
longings, and especially the precious waistcoat? 

Mallalieu had deposited that waistcoat in the same 
place every night — on a chair which stood at the head 
of his bed. He had laid it folded on the chair, had 
deposited his other garments in layers upon it, had 
set his candlestick and a box of matches on top of all. 
And everything had always been there, just as he had 
placed things, every morning when he opened his eyes. 
But — he had come to know Miss Pett 's stealthiness by 
that time, and . . . 

He put out a hand now and fingered the pile of 
garments which lay, neatly folded, within a few inches 
of his head. It was all right, then, of course, and 
his hand drew back — to the revolver, separated from 



280 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

his cheek by no more than the thickness of the pillow. 
The touch of that revolver made him begin speculat- 
ing afresh. If Miss Pett or Christopher had meddled 
with the waistcoat, the revolver, too, might have been 
meddled with. Since he had entered the cottage, he 
had never examined either waistcoat or revolver. 
Supposing the charges had been drawn? — supposing 
he was defenceless, if a pinch came? He began to 
sweat with fear at the mere thought, and in the dark- 
ness he fumbled with the revolver in an effort to dis- 
cover whether it was still loaded. And just then came 
a sound — and Mallalieu grew chill with suspense. 

It was a very small sound — so small that it might 
have been no more than that caused by the scratch 
of the tiniest mouse in the wainscot. But in that 
intense silence it was easily heard — and with it came 
the faint glimmering of a light. The light widened — 
there was a little further sound — and Mallalieu, peep- 
ing at things through his eyelashes became aware that 
the door was open, that a tall, spare figure was out- 
lined between the bed and the light without. And in 
that light, outside the door, well behind the thin form 
of Miss Pett, he saw Christopher Pett's sharp face and 
the glint of his beady eyes. 

Mallalieu was sharp enough of thought, and big 
man though he was, he had always been quick of ac- 
tion. He knew what Miss Pett's objective was, and 
he let her advance half-way across the room on her 
stealthy path to the waistcoat. But silently as she 
came on with that cat-like tread, Mallalieu had just 
as silently drawn the revolver from beneath his pillow 
and turned its small muzzle on her. It had a highjly 



WITHOUT THOUGHT 281 

polished barrel, that revolver, and Miss Pett suddenly 
caught a tiny scintillation of light on it — and she 
screamed. And as she screamed Mallalieu fired, and 
the scream died down to a queer choking sound . . . 
and he fired again . . . and where Christopher Pett 's 
face had shown itself a second before there was noth- 
ing — save another choking sound and a fall in the 
entry where Christopher had stood and watched. 

After that followed a silence so deep that Mallalieu 
felt the drums of his ears aching intensely in the 
effort to catch any sound, however small. But he 
heard nothing — not even a sigh. It was as if all the 
awful silences that had ever been in the cavernous 
places of the world had been crystallized into one ter- 
rible silence and put into that room. 

He reached out at last and found his candle and 
the matches, and he got more light and leaned forward 
in the bed, looking. 

''Can't ha' got 'em both!" he muttered. ''Both? 
But " 

He slowly lifted himself out of bed, huddled on 
some of the garments that lay carefully folded on 
the chair, and then, holding the candle to the floor, 
went forward to where the woman lay. She had 
collapsed between the foot of the bed and the wall; 
her shoulders were propped against the wall and the 
grotesque turban hung loosely down on one shoulder. 
And Mallalieu knew in that quick glance that she 
was dead, and he crept onward to the door and looked 
at the other still figure, lying just as supinely in the 
passage that led to the living-room. He looked longer 
at that . . . and suddenly he turned back into his 



282 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

parlour-bedchamber, and carefully avoiding the dead 
woman put on his boots and began to dress with 
feverish haste. 

And while he hurried on his clothes Mallalieu 
thought. He was not sure that he had meant to kill 
these two. He would have delighted in killing them 
certainly, hating them as he did, but he had an idea 
that when he fired he only meant to frighten them. 
But that was neither here nor there now. They were 
dead, but he was alive — and he must get out of that, 
and at once. The moors — the hills — anjrwhere. . . . 

A sudden heavy knocking at the door at the back 
of the cottage set Mallalieu shaking. He started for 
the front — to hear knocking there, too. Then came 
voices demanding admittance, and loudly crying the 
dead woman's name. He crept to a front window at 
that, and carefully drew a corner of the blind and 
looked out, and saw many men in the garden. One 
of them had a lantern, and as its glare glanced about 
Mallalieu set eyes on Cotherstone. 



CHAPTER XXX 

COTHERSTONE 

Cotherstone walked out of the dock and the court 
and the Town Hall amidst a dead silence — which was 
felt and noticed by everybody but himself. At that 
moment he was too elated, too self-satisfied to notice 
anything. He held his head very high as he went 
out by the crowded doorway, and through the crowd 
which had gathered on the stairs ; he might have been 
some general returning to be publicly feted as he 
emerged upon the broad steps under the Town Hall 
portico and threw a triumphant glance at the folk 
who had gathered there to hear the latest news. And 
there, in the open air, and with all those staring eyes 
upon him, he unconsciously indulged in a character- 
istic action. He had caused his best clothes to be sent 
to him at Norcaster Gaol the previous night, and he 
had appeared in them in the dock. The uppermost 
garment was an expensive overcoat, finished off with 
a deep fur collar: now, as he stood there on the top 
step, facing the crowd, he unbuttoned the coat, threw 
its lapels aside, and took a long, deep breath, as if he 
were inhaling the free air of liberty. There were one 
or two shrewd and observant folk amongst the on- 

283 



284f THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

lookers — it seemed to them that this unconscious action 
typified that Cotherstone felt himself throwing off 
the shackles which he had worn, metaphorically speak- 
ing, for the last eight days. 

But in all that crowd, no one went near Cother- 
stone. There were many of his fellow-members of the 
Corporation in it — councillors, aldermen — but none of 
them approached him or even nodded to him ; all they 
did was to stare. The news of what had happened 
had quickly leaked out : it was known before he came 
into view that Cotherstone had been discharged — his 
appearance in that bold, self-assured fashion only led 
to covert whispers and furtive looks. But suddenly, 
from somewhere in the crowd, a sneering voice flung 
a contemptuous taunt across the staring faces. 

"Well done, Cotherstone! — saved your own neck, 
anyway ! ' ' 

There was a ripple of jeering laughter at that, and 
88 Cotherstone turned angrily in the direction from 
whence the voice came, another, equally contemptuous, 
lifted itself from another corner of the crowd. 

** King's evidence! Yah! — ^who'd believe Cother- 
stone? Liar!" 

Cotherstone 's face flushed angrily — ^the flush died 
as quickly away and gave place to a sickly pallor. 
And at that a man who had stood near him beneath 
the portico, watching him inquisitively, stepped nearer 
and whispered — 

"Go home, Mr. Cotherstone! — take my advice, and 
get quietly away, at once!" 

Cotherstone rejected this offer of good counsel with 
a sudden spasm of furious anger. 



COTHERSTONE 285 

* * You be hanged ! " he snarled. ' ' Who 's asking you 
for your tongue? D'ye think I'm afraid of a pack 
like yon? Who's going to interfere with me, I'd like 
to know? Go home yourself!" 

He turned towards the door from which he had just 
emerged — turned to see his solicitor and his counsel 
coming out together. And his sudden anger died 
down, and his face relaxed to a smile of triumph. 

"Now then!" he exclaimed. ''Didn't I tell you 
how it would be, a week since ! Come on across to the 
Arms and I '11 stand a bottle — aye, two, three, if you 
like! — of the very best. Come on, both of you." 

The solicitor, glancing around, saw something of the 
state of affairs, hurriedly excused himself, and slipped 
back into the Town Hall by another entrance. But 
the barrister, a man who, great as his forensic abilities 
were, was one of those people who have no private 
reputation to lose, and of whom it was well known that 
he could never withstand the temptation to a bottle of 
champagne, assented readily, and with great good hu- 
mour. And he and Cotherstone, arm in arm, walked 
down the steps and across the Market Place — and 
behind them the crowd sneered and laughed and in- 
dulged in audible remarks. 

Cotherstone paid, or affected to pay, no heed. He 
steered his companion into the Arms, and turned into 
the great bow-windowed room which served as morn- 
ing meeting-place for all the better class of loungers 
and townsmen in Highmarket. The room was full 
already. Men had come across from the court, and 
from the crowd outside; a babel of talk arose from 
every corner. But when Cotherstone and the well- 



286 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

known barrister (so famous in that circuit for his 
advocacy of criminals that he had acquired the nick- 
name of the Felons' Friend) entered, a dead silence 
fell, and men looked at this curious pair and then at 
each other with significant glances. 

In that silence, Cotherstone, seizing a waiter, 
loudly demanded champagne and cigars: he glared 
defiantly around him as he supplemented the order 
with a command for the best box of cigars in the 
house, the best champagne in the cellars. A loud 
laugh from some corner of the room broke the silence, 
and the waiter, a shrewd fellow who saw how things 
were, gave Cotherstone a look. 

"Come into the small parlour, Mr. Cotherstone," 
he whispered. "Nobody in there — ^you'll be more 
comfortable, sir." 

"All right, then," responded Cotherstone. He 
glared once more at the company around him, and 
his defiance suddenly broke out in another fashion. 
"Any friend of mine that likes to join us," he said 
pointedly, "is welcome. Who's coming, like?" 

There was another hoarse laugh at this, and most 
of the men there turned their backs on Cotherstone 
and began to talk loudly. But one or two of the 
less particular and baser sort, whom Cotherstone 
would certainly not have called friends a week before, 
nudged each other and made towards the door which 
the waiter held invitingly open — it was not every day 
that the best champagne and the best cigars were to 
be had for nothing, and if Cotherstone liked to fling 
him money about, what did it matter, so long as they 
benefited by his folly? 



COTHERSTONE 287 

''That's the style!" said Cotherstone, pushing the 
barrister along. "Bring two — bring three bottles," 
he cried to the waiter. "Big 'uns! — and the best." 

An elderly man, one of Cotherstone 's fellow-mem- 
bers of the Corporation, came forward and caught 
him by the arm. 

"Cotherstone!" he whispered. "Don't be a fool! 
Think of what's only just over. Go home, like a good 
fellow — go quietly home. You're doing no good with 
this — you'll have all the town talking!" 

"Hang the town, and you too!" snapped Cother- 
stone. "You're one of them that shouted at me in 
front of the Town Hall, curse you ! I '11 let you and 
all Highmarket see what I care for you. What's it 
to you if I have a quiet glass of wine with my 
friends ? ' ' 

But there was no quiet drinking of a glass of wine 
in the parlour to which Cotherstone and his cronies 
retired. Whenever its door opened Cotherstone 's ex- 
cited tones were heard in the big room, and the more 
sober-minded of the men who listened began to shake 
their heads. 

"What's the matter with him?" asked one. "No- 
body ever knew him like this before ! What 's he car- 
rying on in that fashion for?" 

"He's excited with getting off," said another. 
"And that bit of a scene outside there threw him 
off his balance. He should ha' been taken straight 
home. Nice lot he's got with him, too ! We all know 
what yon barrister chap is — he can drink champagne 
like water, they say, and for the others — listen to that, 
now!" he added as a burst of excited talking came 



288 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

through the opened door. "He'll be in a fine fit 
state to go home to that daughter of his, I know, if 
that goes on." 

"It mustn't go on," said another, and got up. 
"I'll go across to Bent's and get him to come over 
and take Cotherstone away. Bent's the only man 
that'll have any influence with him." 

He went out and crossed the Market Place to Bent's 
office. But Bent was not there. By his advice Lettie 
had gone to stay with some friends until the recent 
proceedings were over in one way or another, and 
Bent himself, as soon as Cotherstone had left the 
court, had hurried away to catch a train to the town in 
which she was temporarily staying in order to tell her 
the news and bring her home. So the would-be doer- 
of-good went back disappointed — and as he reached 
the hotel, Cotherstone and the barrister emerged from 
it, parted at the door with evident great cordiality, 
and went their several ways. And Cotherstone, pass- 
ing the man who had been to Bent's, stared him in the 
face and cut him dead. 

"It's going to be war to the knife between Cother- 
stone and the town," remarked the ambassador, when 
he re-entered the big room and joined his own circle. 
"He passed me just now as if I were one of the pav- 
ing-stones he trod on ! And did you see his face as he 
went out? — egad, instead of looking as if he'd had too 
much to drink, he looked too sober to please me. You 
mind if something doesn't happen — ^yon fellow's des- 
perate ! ' ' 

"What should he be desperate about?" asked one 
of the group. "He's saved his own neck!" 



COTHERSTONE 289 

"It was that shouting at him when he came out 
that did it," observed another man quietly. "He's 
the sort of man ta resent aught like that. If Cother- 
stone thinks public opinion's against him — well, we 
shall see ! " 

Cotherstone walked steadily away through the 
Market Place when .he left the barrister. Whatever 
the men in the big room might have thought, he had 
not been indulging too freely in the little parlour. 
He had pressed champagne on the group around him, 
but the amount he had taken himself had not been 
great and it had pulled him together instead of in- 
toxicating him. And his excitement had suddenly 
died down, and he had stopped what might have de- 
veloped into a drinking bout by saying that he must 
go home. And once outside, he made for his house, 
and as he went he looked neither to right nor left, and 
if he met friend or acquaintance his face became hard 
as flint. 

Cotherstone, indeed, was burning and seething with 
indignation. The taunts flung at him as he stood on 
the Town Hall steps, the looks turned in his direction 
as he walked away with the convivially inclined bar- 
rister, the expression on the faces of the men in the 
big room at the Highmarket Arms — all these things 
had stung him to the quick. He knew, whatever else 
he might have been, or was, he had proved a faithful 
servant to the town. He had been a zealous member 
of the Corporation, he had taken hold of the financial 
affairs of the borough when they were in a bad way 
and had put them in a safe and prosperous footing; 
he had worked, thought, and planned for the benefit 



290 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

of the place — and this was his reward ! For he knew 
that those taunts, those looks, those half-averted, half- 
sneering faces meant one thing, and one thing only — 
the Highmarket men believed him equally guilty with 
Mallalieu, and had come to the conclusion that he was 
only let off in order that direct evidence against Mal- 
lalieu might be forthcoming. He cursed them deeply 
and bitterly — and sneered at them in the same breath, 
knowing that even as they were weathercocks, veering 
this way and that at the least breath of public opinion, 
so they were also utter fools, wholly unable to see -or 
to conjecture. 

The excitement that had seized upon Cotherstone in 
face of that public taunting of him died away in the 
silence of his own house — when Lettie and Bent re- 
turned home in the course of the afternoon they found 
him unusually cool and collected. Bent had come 
with uneasy feelings and apprehensions; one of the 
men who had been at the Highmarket Arms had 
chanced to be in the station when he and Lettie ar- 
rived, and had drawn him aside and told him of what 
had occurred, and that Cotherstone was evidently go- 
ing on the drink. But there were no signs of any- 
thing unusual about Cotherstone when Bent found 
him. He said little about the events of the morning 
to either Bent or Lettie; he merely remarked that 
things had turned out just as he had expected and 
that now perhaps they would get matters settled; he 
had tea with them; he was busy with his books and 
papers in his own room until supper-time ; he showed 
no signs of anything unusual at supper, and when an 
hour later he left the house, saying that he must go 



COTHERSTONE 291 

down to the office and fetch the accumulated cor- 
respondence, his manner was so ordinary that Bent 
saw no reason why he should accompany him. 

But Cotherstone had no intention of going to his 
office. He left his house with a fixed determination. 
He would know once and for all what Highmarket 
felt towards and about him. He was not the man to 
live under suspicion and averted looks, and if he was 
to be treated as a suspect and a pariah he would know 
at once. 

There was at that time in Highmarket a small and 
select club, having its house in the Market Place, to 
which all the principal townsmen belonged. Both 
Mallalieu and Cotherstone had been members since its 
foundation; Cotherstone, indeed, was its treasurer. 
He knew that the club would be crowded that night — 
very well, he would go there and boldly face public 
opinion. If his fellowmembers cut him, gave him the 
cold shoulder, ignored him — all right, he would know 
what to do then. 

But Cotherstone never got inside the club. As he 
set his foot on the threshold he met one of the oldest 
members — an alderman of the borough, for whom he 
had a great respect. This man, at sight of him, 
started, stopped, laid a friendly but firm hand on 
his arm, and deliberately turned him round. 

"No, my lad!" he said kindly. ''Not in there 
tonight ! If you don't know how to take care of your- 
self, let a friend take care of you. Have a bit of 
sense, Cotherstone ! Do you want to expose yourself 
again to what you got outside the Town Hall this 
noon? No — no! — go away, my lad, go home — come 



292 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

home with me, if you like — ^you're welcome !" 

The last word softened Cotherstone: he allowed 
himself to be led away along the street. 

"I'm obliged to you," he said brusquely. "You 
mean well. But — do you mean to say that those fel- 
lows in there — men that know me — are thinking — 
that!" 

''It's a hard, censorious world, this," answered the 
elder man. "Leave 'em alone a bit — don't shove 
yourself on 'em. Come away — come home and have 
a cigar with me." 

"Thank you," said Cotherstone. "You wouldn't 
ask me to do that if you thought as they do. Thank 
you! But I've something to do — and I'll go and do 
it at once." 

He pressed his companion's arm, and turned away 
— and the other man watching him closely, saw him 
walk off to the police-station, to the superintendent's 
private door. He saw him enter — and at that he 
shook his head and went away himself, wonder- 
ing what it was that Cotherstone wanted with the 
police. 

The superintendent, tired by a long day's work, 
was taking his ease with his pipe and his glass when 
Cotherstone was shown into his parlour. He started 
with amazement at the sight of his visitor: Cother- 
stone motioned him back to his chair. 

"Don't let me disturb you," said Cotherstone. "I 
want a word or two with you in private — that's all." 

The superintendent had heard of the scene at the 
hotel, and had had his fears about its sequel. But 
he was quick to see that his visitor was not only sober, 



COTHERSTONE 293 

but remarkably cool and normal, and he hastened to 
offer him a glass of whisky. 

"Aye, thank yo.u, I will," replied Cotherstone, seat- 
ing himself. ''It'll be the first spirits I've tasted 
since you locked me up, and I daresay it'll do me no 
harm. Now then," he went on as the two settled 
themselves by the hearth, "I want a bit of a straight 
talk with you. You know me — we've been friends. 
I want you to tell me, straight, plain, truthful — what 
are Highmarket folk thinking and saying about me? 
Come!" 

The superintendent 's face clouded and he shook his 
head. 

''Well, you know what folks wiU be, Mr. Cother- 
stone!" he answered. "And you know how very 
ready to say nasty things these Highmarket people 
are. I'm not a Highmarket man myself, any more 
than you are, and I've always regarded 'em as very 
bitter-tongued folk, and so " 

"Out with it!" said Cotherstone. "Let's know 
the truth — never mind what tongues it comes from. 
What are they saying ? ' ' 

"Well," replied the superintendent, reluctantly, 
"of course I get to hear everything. If you must 
have it, the prevailing notion is that both you and 
Mr. Mallalieu had a hand in Kitely's death. They 
think his murder's at your doors, and that what hap- 
pened to Stoner was a by-chance. And if you want 
the whole truth, they think you 're a deal cleverer than 
Mallalieu, and that Kitely probably met his end at 
your hands, with your partner's connivance. And 
there are those who say that if Mallalieu 's caught — 



294 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

as he will be — he'll split on you. That's all, sir." 

"And what do you think?" demanded Cother- 
stone. 

The superintendent shifted uneasily in his chair. 

* * I 've never been able to bring myself to think that 
either you or Mallalieu 'ud murder a man in cold 
blood, as Kitely was murdered," he said. "As re- 
gards Stoner, I've firmly held to it that Mallalieu 
struck him in a passion. But — I 've always felt this — 
you, or Mallalieu, or both of you, know more about 
the Kitely affair than you 've ever told ! ' ' 

Cotherstone leaned forward and tapped his host on 
the arm. 

"I do!" he said significantly. "You're right in 
that. I— do!" 

The superintendent laid down his pipe and looked 
at his visitor gravely. 

"Then for goodness sake, Mr. Cotherstone," he 
exclaimed, "for goodness sake, tell! For as sure as 
we're sitting here, as things are at present, Malla- 
lieu '11 hang if you don't! If he doesn't hang for 
Stoner, he will for Kitely, for if he gets off over Stoner 
he'll be re-arrested on the other charge." 

"Half an hour ago," remarked Cotherstone, "I 
shouldn't have minded if Mallalieu had been hanged 
half a dozen times. Revenge is sweet — and I've good 
reason for being revenged on Mallalieu. But now — 
I'm inclined to tell the truth. Do you know why? 
Why — to show these Highmarket folks that they're 
wrong ! ' ' 

The superintendent sighed. He was a plain, hon- 
est, simple man, and Cotherstone 's reason seemed a 



COTHERSTONE 295 

strange — even a wicked one — to him. To tell the 
truth merely to spite one's neighbour — a poor, poor 
reason, when there was life at stake. 

"Aye, Mr. Cotherstone, but you ought to tell the 
truth in any case!" he said. "If you know it, get it 
out and be done with it. We've had enough trouble 
already. If you can clear things up " 

"Listen!" interrupted Cotherstone. "I'll tell you 
all I know — privately. If you think good, it can be 
put into proper form. Very well, then ! You remem- 
ber the night of Kitely's murder?" 

"Aye, I should think so!" said the superintendent. 
"Good reason to!" 

"Let your mind go back to it, and to what you've 
since heard of it," said Cotherstone. "You know 
that on that afternoon Kitely had threatened me and 
Mallalieu with exposure about the Wilchester affair. 
He wanted to blackmail us. I told Mallalieu, of 
course — we were both to think about it till next day. 
But I did naught but think — I didn't want exposure 
for my daughter's sake: I'd ha' given anything to 
avoid it, naturally. I had young Bent and that friend 
of his, Brereton, to supper that night — I was so full of 
thought that I went out and left 'em for an hour or 
more. The truth was I wanted to get a word with 
Kitely. I went up the wood at the side of my house 
towards Kitely's cottage — and all of a sudden I came 
across a man lying on the ground — ^him ! — just where 
we found him afterwards." 

"Dead?" asked the superintendent. 

"Only just," replied Cotherstone. "But he wa*s 
dead — and I saw what had caused his death, for I 



296 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

struck a match to look at him. I saw that empty 
pocket-book lying by — I saw a scrap of folded news- 
paper, too, and I picked it up and later, when I'd read 
it, I put it in a safe place — I've taken it from that 
place tonight for the first time, and it's here — you 
keep it. Well — I went on, up to the cottage. The 
door was open — I looked in. Yon woman. Miss Pett, 
was at the table by the lamp, turning over some papers 
— I saw Kitely's writing on some of 'em. I stepped 
softly in and tapped her on the arm, and she screamed 
and started back. I looked at her. 'Do you know 
that your master's lying dead, murdered, down 
amongst those trees?' I said. Then she pulled her- 
self together, and she sort of got between me and 
the door. *No, I don't!' she says. 'But if he is, I'm 
not surprised, for I've warned him many a time about 
going out after nightfall.' I looked hard at her. 
'What 're you doing with his papers there?' I says. 
'Papers ! ' she says. ' They 're naught but old bills and 
things that he gave me to sort.' 'That's a lie!' I 
says, 'those aren't bills and I believe you know some- 
thing about this, and I'm off for the police — ^to tell!' 
Then she pushed the door to behind her and folded 
her arms and looked at me. 'You tell a word,' she 
says, 'and I'll tell it all over the town that you and 
your partner's a couple of ex-convicts! I know your 
tale — Kitely'd no secrets from me. You stir a step 
to tell anybody, and I'll begin by going straight to 
young Bent — and I'll not stop at that, neither.' So 
you see where I was — I was frightened to death of 
that old affair getting out, and I knew then that 
Kitely was a liar and had told this old woman all 



COTHERSTONE 297 

about it, and — well, I hesitated. And she saw that 
she had me, and she went on, *You.hold your tongue, 
and I'll hold mine!' she says. 'Nobody '11 accuse me, 
I know — but if you speak one word, I '11 denounce you ! 
You and your partner are much more likely to have 
killed Kitely than I am ! Well, I still stood, hesitat- 
ing. 'What's to be done?' I asked at last. 'Do 
naught,' she said. 'Go home, like a wise man, and 
know naught about it. Let him be found — and say 
naught. But if you do, you know what to expect.' 
'Not a word that I came in here, then?' I said at last. 
'Nobody '11 get no words from me beyond what I 
choose to give 'em', she says. 'And — silence about 
the other?' I said. 'Just as long as you're silent,' she 
says. And with that I walked out — and I set off 
towards home by another way. And just as I was 
leaving the wood to turn into the path that leads 
into our lane I heard a man coming along and I 
shrank into some shrubs and watched for him till he 
came close up. He passed me and went on to the 
cottage — and I slipped back then and looked in 
through the window, and there he was, and they were 
both whispering together at the table. And it — ^was 
this woman's nephew — Pett, the lawyer." 

The superintendent, .whose face had assumed 
various expressions during this narrative, lifted his 
hands in amazement. 

"But — but we were in and about that cottage most 
of that night — afterwards!" he exclaimed. "We 
never saw aught of him. I know he was supposed 
to come down from London the next night, but " 

"Tell you he was there that night!" insisted Coth- 



29S THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

erstone. ''D'ye think I could mistake him? Well, 
I went home — and you know what happened after- 
wards : you know what she said and how she behaved 
when we went up — and of course I played my part. 
But — that bit of newspaper I've given you. I read 
it carefully that night, last thing. It's a column cut 
out of a Woking newspaper of some years ago — it's 
to do with an inquest in which this woman was con- 
cerned — there seems to be some evidence that she got 
rid of an employer of hers by poison. And d'ye 
know what I think, now ? — I think that had been sent 
to Kitely, and he'd plagued her about it, or held it 
out as a threat to her — and — what is it ? " 

The superintendent had risen and was taking down 
his overcoat. 

*'Do you know that this woman's leaving the town 
tomorrow?" he said. **And there's her nephew vnth 
her, now — been here for a week ? Of course, I under- 
stand why you've told me all this, Mr. Cotherstone — 
now that your old affair at Wilchester is common 
knowledge, far and wide, you don't care, and you 
don't see any reason for more secrecy?" 

"My reason," answered Cotherstone, with a grim 
smile, "is to shoW Highmarket folk that they aren't 
So clever as they think. For the probability is that 
Kitely was killed by that woman, or her nephew, or 
both." 

"I'm going up there with a couple of my best men, 
any way," said the superintendent. "There's no 
tirae to lose if they're clearing out tomorrow." 

"I'll come with you," said Cotherstone. He 
waited, staring at the fire until the superintendent 



COTHERSTONE 299 

had been into the adjacent police-station and had 
come back to say that he and his men were ready. 
*'What do you mean to do?" he asked as the four 
of them set out. ' ' Take them ? ' ' 

"Question them first," answered the superinten- 
dent. "I shan't let them get out of my sight, any 
way, after what you've told me, for I expect you're 
right in your conclusions. What is it?" he asked, 
as one of the two men who followed behind called 
him. 

The man pointed down the Market Place to the 
doors of the police-station. 

"Two cars just pulled up there, sir," he said. 
"Came round the corner just now from the Nor- 
caster road." 

The •superintendent glanced back and saw two star- 
ing headlights standing near his own door. 

"Oh, well, there's Smith there," he said. "And 
if it's anybody wanting me, he knows where I've 
gone. Come on — for aught we know these two may 
have cleared out already." 

But there were thin cracks of light in the living- 
room window of the lonely cottage on the Shawl, 
and the superintendent whispered that somebody was 
certainly there and still up. He halted his com- 
panions outside the garden gate and turned to Coth- 
erstone. 

"I don't know if it'll be advisable for you to be 
seen," he said. "I think our best plan '11 be for me 
to knock at the front door and ask for the woman. 
You other two go round — quietly — to the back door, 
and take care that nobody gets out that way to tlic 



300 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

moors at the back — if anybody once escapes to those 
moors they 're as good as lost for ever on a dark night. 
Go round — and when you hear me knock at the front, 
you knock at the back." 

The two men slipped away i*ound the comer of 
the garden and through the adjacent belt of trees, and 
the superintendent gently lifted the latch of the 
garden gate. 

' ' You keep back, Mr, Cotherstone, when I go to the 
door," he said. "You never know — hullo, what's 
this?" 

Men were coming up the wood behind them, quietly 
but quickly. One of them, ahead of the others, 
carried a bull's-eye lamp and in swinging it about 
revealed himself as one of the superintendent's own 
officers. He caught sight of his superior and came 
forward. 

*'Mr. Brereton's here, sir, and some gentlemen from 
Norcaster," he said. "They want to see you par- 
ticularly — something about this place, so I brought 
them " 

It was at that moment that the sound of the two 
revolver shots rang out in the silence from the still- 
ness of the cottage. And at that the superintendent 
dashed forward, with a cry to the others, and began 
to beat on the front door, and while his men re- 
sponded with similar knockings at the back he called 
loudly on Miss Pett to open. 

It was Mallalieu who at last flung the door open 
and confronted the amazed and wondering group clus- 
tered thickly without. Every man there shrank back 
affrighted at the desperation on the cornered man's 



COTHERSTONE 301 

face. But Mallalieu did not shrink, and his hand was 
strangely steady as he singled out his partner and 
shot him dead — and just as steady as he stepped back 
and turned the revolver on himself. 

A moment later the superintendent snatched the 
bull's-eye lamp from his man, and stepped over Mal- 
lalieu 's dead body and went into the cottage — to 
come back on the instant shivering and sick with 
shock at the sight his startled eyes had met. 



CHAPTER XXXI 

THE BARRISTER'S FEE 

Six months later, on a fine evening which came as 
the fitting close of a perfect May afternoon, Brereton 
got out of a London express at Norcaster and entered 
the little train which made its way by a branch line 
to the very heart of the hills. He had never been 
back to these northern regions since the tragedies of 
which he had been an unwilling witness, and when 
the little train came to a point in its winding career 
amongst the fell-sides and valleys from whence High- 
market could be seen, with the tree-crowned Shawl 
above it, he resolutely turned his face and looked in 
the opposite direction. He had no wish to see the 
town again; he would have been .glad to cut that 
chapter out of his book of memories. Nevertheless, 
being so near to it, he could not avoid the recollections 
which cama crowding on him because of his knowledge 
that Highmarket's old gables and red roofs were 
there, within a mile or two, had he cared to look at 
them in the glint of the westering sun. No — ^he would 
never willingly set foot in that town again! — there 
was nobody there now that he had any desire to see. 
Bent, .when the worst was over, and the strange and 
sordid story had come to its end, had scdd his business, 

302 



THE BARRISTER'S FEE 303 

quietly married Lettie and taken her away for a 
long residence abroad, before returning to settle dow» 
in London. Brereton had seen them for an hour or 
two as they passed through London on their way to 
Paris and Italy, and had been more than ever struck 
by young Mrs. Bent's philosophical acceptance of 
facts. Her father, in Lettie 's opinion, had always 
been a deeply-wronged and much injured man, and 
it was his fate to have suffered by his life-long con- 
nexion with that very wicked person, Mallalieu: he 
had unfortunately paid the penalty at last — and there 
was no more to be said about it. It might be well, 
thought Brereton, that Bent's wife should be so calm 
and equable of temperament, for Bent, on his return 
to England, meant to go in for politics, and Lettie 
would doubtless make an ideal help-meet for a public 
man. She would face situations with a cool head and 
a well-balanced judgment — and so, in that respect, all 
was well. All the same, Brereton had a strong no- 
tion that neither Mr. nor Mrs. Bent would ever revisit 
Highmarket. 

As for himself, his thoughts went beyond High- 
market — to the place amongst the hills which he had 
never seen. After Harborough's due acquittal Brere- 
ton, having discharged his task, had gone back to 
London. But ever since then he had kept up a regular 
correspondence with Avice, and he knew all the details 
of the new life which had opened up for her and her 
father with the coming of Mr, Wraythwaite of Wraye. 
Her letters were full of vivid descriptions of Wraye 
itself, and of the steward's house in which she and 
Harborough — now appointed steward and agent to his 



304 THE BOROUGH TREASURER 

foster-brother's estate — had taken up their residence. 
She had a gift of description, and Brereton had gained 
a good notion of Wraye from her letters — an ancient 
and romantic place, set amongst the wild hills of the 
Border, lonely amidst the moors, and commanding 
wide views of river and sea. It was evidently the sort 
of place in which a lover of open spaces, such as he 
knew Avice to be, could live an ideal life. But Bre- 
reton had travelled down from London on purpose to 
ask her to leave it. 

He had come at last on a sudden impulse, un- 
known to any one, and therefore unexpected. Leav- 
ing his bag at the little station in the valley at which 
he left the train just as the sun was setting behind 
the surrounding hills, he walked quickly up a wind- 
ing road between groves of fir and pine towards the 
great grey house which he knew must be the place into 
which the man from Australia had so recently come 
under romantic circumstances. At the top of a low 
hill he paused and looked about him, recognizing the 
scenes from the descriptions which Avice had given 
him in her letters. There was Wraye itself — a big, 
old-world place, set amongst trees at the top of a long 
park-like expanse of falling ground ; hills at the back, 
the sea in the far distance. The ruins of an ancient 
tower stood near the house ; still nearer to Brereton, in 
an oldfashioned flower garden, formed by cutting out 
a plateau on the hillside, stood a smaller house which 
he knew — also from previous description — to be the 
steward's. He looked long at this before he went 
nearer to it, hoping to catch the flutter of a gown 
amongst the rose-trees already bright with bloom. 



THE BARRISTER'S FEE 305 

And at last, passing thrcFugh the rose-trees he went to 
the stone porch and knocked — and was half-afraid lest 
Avice herself should open the door to him. Instead, 
came a strapping, redcheeked North-country lass who 
stared at this evident traveller from far-off parts be- 
fore she found her tongue. No — Miss Avice wasn't 
in, she was down the garden, at the far end. 

Brereton hastened down the garden; turned a 
corner ; they met unexpectedly. Equally unexpected, 
too, was the manner of their meeting. For these two 
had been in lave with each other from an early stage 
of their acquaintance, and it seemed only natural 
now that when at last they touched hands, hand 
should stay in hand. And when two young people 
hold each other's hands, especially on a Springtide 
evening, and under the most romantic circumstances 
and surroundings, lips are apt to say more than 
tongues — which is as much as to say that without 
further preface these two expressed aU they had to 
say in their first kiss. 

Nevertheless, Brereton found his tongue at last. 
For when he had taken a long and searching look at 
the girl and had found in her eyes what he sought, 
he turned and looked at wood, hill, sky, and sea. 

"This is all as you described it" he said, with 
his arm round her, ''and yet the first real thing I 
have to say to you now that I am here is — ^to ask 
you to leave it ! " 

She smiled at that and again put her hand in his. 

''But — we shall come back to it now and then — > 
together!" she said. 

THE END 



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You will find more than five hundred 
titles to choose from — books for every 
mood and every taste and every pocket- 
book. 

Don't forget the other side, but in case 
the wrapper is lost, write to the publishers 
for a complete catalog. 



There is a Grosset 6f Dunlap Book 
for every mood and for every taste 



JAMES OLIVER CURWOOD'S 

STORIES OF ADVENTURE 

May be had wharaver booto ara sold. Asfc for Grosstt ft Dunlap's »st 

THE RIVER'S END 

A story of the Royal Mounted Police. 
THE GOLDEN SNARE 

Thrilling adventures in the Far Northland. 
NOMADS OF THE NORTH 

The story of a bear-cub and a dog. 

KAZAN 

The tale of a "quarter-strain wolf and three-quarters husky" torn 
between the call of the human and his wild mate. 

BAREE, SON OF KAZAN 

The story of the son of the blind Grey Wolf and the gallant part 
he played in the lives of a man and a woman. 

THE COURAGE OF CAPTAIN PLUM 

The story of the King of Beaver Island, a Mormon colony, and his 
battle with Captain Plum. 

THE DANGER TRAIL 

A tale of love, Indian vengeance, and a mystery of the North. 
THE HUNTED WOMAN 

A tale of a great fight in the '* valley of gold " for a woman. 
THE FLOWER OF THE NORTH 

The story of Fort o' God, where the wild flavor of the wilderness 
<s blended with the comtly atmosphere of France. 

THE GRIZZLY KING 

The story of Thor, the big grizzly. 
ISOBEL 

A love story of the Far North. 
THE WOLF HUNTERS 

A thrilling tale of adventure in the Canadian wilderfleiS. 
THE GOLD HUNTERS 

The story of adventiu-e in the Hudson Bay wilds. 
THE COURAGE OF MARGE O'DOONE 

Filled with exciting incidents in the land of strong men and women. 

BACK TO GOD'S COUNTRY 

A thrilling story of the Far North. The great Photoplay was made 
from this book. 

Grosset & DuNLAP, Publishers, New York 



ZANE GREY'S NO VELS 

Hay b« had whsravar books an sold. Ask for firossat & Duolap's ItoL 



THE MAN OF THK FOREST 

THK DESERT OF WHEAT 

THE U. P. TRAIL 

WILDFIRE 

THE BORDER LEGION 

THE RAINBOW TRAIL 

THE HERITAGE OF THK DESERT 

RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE 

THE LIGHT OF WESTERN STARS 

THE LAST OF THE PLAINSMEN 

THE LONE STAR RANGER 

DESERT GOLD 

BETTY ZANE 

• • • • • • • 

LAST OF THE GREAT SCOUTS 

The life story of " Buflfalo Bill" by his sister Helen Cody 
Wetmore, with Foreword and conclusion by Zane Grey, 

ZANE GREY'S BOOKS FOR BOYS 

KEN WARD IN THE JUNGLE 
THE YOUNG LION HUNTER 
THE YOUNG FORESTER 
THE YOUNG PITCHER 
THE SHORT STOP 





THE RED-HEADED OUTFIELD AND OTHEk 




BASEBALL STORIES 




Qrosset & DuNLAP, Publishers, 


New Yom 



EDGAR RICE BURROUGH'S 
NOVELS 

Wtey In hid wtiertvar boolcs are told. Ask for Sromt t Dun»«p'« Utt 

TARZAN THE UNTAMED 

Tells of Tarzan' s return to the life of the ape-man in 
his search for vengeance on those who took from him hit 
wife and home. 

JUNGLE TALES OF TARZAN 

Records the many wonderful exploits by which Tarzac 
'proves his right to ape kingship. 

A PRINCESS OF MARS 

Forty-three million miles from tne earth — a succession 
of the weirdest and most astounding adventures in fiction. 
' John Carter, American, finds himself on the planet Mars, 
battling for a beautiful woman, with the Green Men of 
Mars, terrible creatures fifteen feet high, mounted on 
horses like dragons. 

THE GODS OF MARS 

Continuing John Carter* s adventures on the Planet Mars, 
m which he does battle against the ferocious "plant men,** 
creatures whose mighty tails swished their victims to instant 
death, and defies Issus, the terrible Goddess of Death, 
whom all Mars worships and reveres. 

THE WARLORD OF MARS 

01(J acquaintances, made in the two other stories, reap- 
pear. Tars Tarkas, Tardos Mors and others. There is a 
happy ending to the story in the union of the Warlord, 
the title conferred upon John Carter, with Dejah Thoris. 

THUVIA, MAID OF MARS 

The fourth volume of the series. The story centers 
tfound the adventures of Carthoris, the son of John Car- 
ter and Thuvia, daughter of a Martian Emperor. 

GROSSET & DUNLAP. Fubushers. NEW YQRg- 



PETER B. KYNE'S NOVELS 

May be had wharevar books are sold. Ask for Brosset & Dun l«p'$ list 

THE PRIDE OF PALQMAR 

, "When two strong men clash and the under-dog has Irish 
blood in his veins — there's a tale that Kyne can tell! And 
" the girl " is also vpry much in evidence, 

KINDRED OF THE DUST 

Donald McKay, son of Hector McKay, millionaire lum- 
ber king, falls in love with " Nan of the Sawdust Pile," a 
charming girl who has been ostracized by her townsfolk. 

THE VALLEY OF THE GIANTS 

The light of the Cardigans, father and son, to hold the 
Valley of the Giants against treachery. The reader finishes 
with a sense of having lived with big men and women in a 
big covintry. 

CAPPY RICKS 

The story of old Cappy Ricks and of Matt Peasley, the 
boy he tried to break because he knew the acid test was 
good for his soul. 

WEBSTER: MAN'S MAN 

In a little Jim Crow Republic in Central America, a man 
and a woman, hailing from the " States," met up with a 
revolution and for a while adventures and excitement came 
so thick and fast that their love affair had to wait for a lull 
in the game. 

CAPTAIN SCRAGGS 

This sea yarn recounts the adventures of three rapscal- 
lion sea-faring men — a Captain Scraggs, owner of the green 
vegetable freighter Maggie, Gibney the mate and McGuff- 
ney the engineer. 

THE LONG CHANCE 

A story fresh from the heart of the West, of San Pasqual, 
a sun-baked desert town, of Harley P. Hennage, the best 
gambler, the best and worst man of San Pasqual and of 
lovely Donna. 

Grosset & DuNLAP, Publishers, New York 



RUBY M. AYRE'S NOVELS 

May ba had wtierovsr books are sold. Ask for Grossat & Duntap's list 



RICHARD CHATTERTON 

A fascinating story in which lovie and jealousy play 
strange tricks with women's souls. 

A BACHELOR HUSBAND ♦ 

Can a woman love two men at the same time? 

In its solving of this particular variety of triangle " A 

Bachelor Husband " will particularly interest, and strangely 

enough, without one shock to the most conventional minded. 

THE SCAR * 

With fine comprehension and insight the author shows a 
terrific contrast between the woman whose love was of the 
flesh and one whose love was of the spirit. 

THE MARRIAGE OF BARRY WICKLOW 

Here is a man and woman who, marrying for love, yet try 
to build their wedded life upon a gospel of hate for each 
other and yet win back to a greater love for each other in 
the end. 

THE UPHILL ROAD 

The heroine of this story was a consort of thieves. Thtj 
man was fine, clean, fresh from the West. It is a story of 
strength and passion. 

WINDS OF THE WORLD 

Jill, a poor little typist, marries the great Henry Sturgess 
and inherits millions, but not happiness. Then at last — but 
we must leave that to Ruby M. Ayres to tell you as only 
she can. 

THE SECOND HONEYMOON 

In this story the author has produced t book which no 
one who has loved or hopes to love can afford to miss. 
The story fairly leaps from climax to climax. 

THE PHANTOM LOVER 

Have you not often heard of someone being in love with 
love rather than the person they believed the object of their 
aflfections ? That was Esther 1 But she passes through the 
crisis into a deep and profound love. 

Grosset & DuNLAP, Publishers, New York 



JACK LONDON^S NOVELS 

May be had wherever books art sold. Ask for Grosset ft Dunlap's list 

J OHN BARLEYCORN. lUtistrated by H. T. Dtum. ' 

This remarkable book is a record of the author's own amassing 
experiences. This big, brawny world rover, who has been ac- 
quainted with alcohol from boyhood, comes out boldly against John 
Barleycorn. It is a string of exciting adventures, yet it forcefully 
conveys an unf orgetable idea and makes a typical Jack London book. 

THE VALLEY OF THE MOON. Frontispiece by George Harper. 

The story opens in the city slums where Billy Roberts, teamster 
and ex-prize fighter, and Saxon Brown, laundry worker, meet and 
love and marry. They tramp from one end of California to the 
other, and in the Valley of the Moon find the farm paradise that is 
to be their sjdvation. 
BURNING DAYLIGHT. Fotir illnstrations. 

The story ot an adventurer who went to Alaska and laid the 
foundations of his fortune before the gold htm ters arrived. Bringing 
his fortunes to the States he is cheated out of it by a crowd of money 
kings, and recovers it only at the muzzle of his gun. He then starts 
out asja merciless exploiter on his own account. Finally he takes to 
drinking and becomes a picture of degeneration. About this time 
he falls in love with his stenographer and wins her heart but not 
her hand and then — but read the story! 
A SON OF THE SUN . Illustrated by A. O. Fischer and C.W. Ashley. 

David Grief was once a light-haired, blue-eyed youth who came 
from England to the South Seas in search of adventure. Tanned 
like a native and as lithe as a tiger, he became a real son of the sun. 
The life appealed to him and he remained and became very wealthy. 
THE CALL OF THE WILD. Illustrations by Philip R. Goodwin and 
Charles Livingston Bull. Decorations by Charles E. Hooper. 

A book ot dog adventures as exciting as any man's exploits 
could be. Here is excitement to stir the blood and here is pictur- 
esque color to transport the reader to primitive scenes. 
THE SEA WOLF. Illustrated by W. J. Aylward. 

Told by a man whom Pate suddenly swings from his fastidious 
life into the power of the brutal captain of a sealing schooner. A 
novel of adventure warmed by a beautiful love episode that every 
reader will hail with delight. 
WHITE FANG. Illustrated by Charles Livingston Bull. 

"White Fang" is part dog, part wolf and all brute, living in the 
frozen north ; he gradually comes under the spell of man's com- 
panionship, and surrenders all at the last in a fight with a bull dog. 
Thereafter he is man's loving slave. ^_ 

Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers, New York 



mnuiNG SECT. MAY S - 1968